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The National Hurricane Center said Florence was expected to slam into the coast around North and SC as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane on Thursday or Friday.

His announcement came after a Monday press conference in which he ordered all coastal counties in the state to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence.

James City County has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of effects from Hurricane Florence. An estimated 250,000 more people from the northern Outer Banks were due to be sent to higher ground starting Tuesday at midday.

For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge: If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions.

NHC Director Ken Graham warned of "staggering" amounts of rainfall that may extend hundreds of miles inland and cause flash flooding across the mid-Atlantic region.

There have only been 26 category 4 hurricanes to ever make landfall in the us since 1850.

"Life-threatening" hurricane and storm surges watches have been issued for huge swathes of the U.S. southeastern coast as Hurricane Florence barrels across the Atlantic Ocean.

Florence could hit the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since Hazel packed 130 miles per hour (209 kph) winds in 1954. It may move a little north into Virginia or a little south into SC.

Many people in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic probably have not experienced a storm of the potential magnitude of Florence.

Preparations intensified up and down the densely populated coast.

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The hurricane will weaken slightly before it makes landfall on Thursday as it encounters more wind shear, but Florence should still be a major hurricane at landfall along the central North Carolina coast.

North Carolina's governor says consistency of the Hurricane Florence's forecast track toward the Carolinas has helped the state understand the threat early on and given it time to get ready.

"This is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years", President Donald Trump warned on Twitter.

"If the storm turns north toward D.C., more airlines will be impacted".

South Carolina National Guard soldiers transfer bulk diesel fuel into fuel tanker trucks for distribution in advance of Hurricane Florence, in North Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. September 10, 2018.

"It does look a bit similar to Harvey in a sense that it goes roaring into shore and then comes to a screeching stop", said MIT meteorology professor and hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel.

Following updated predictions, Gov. Henry McMaster, in coordination with state and local officials, lifted the mandatory evacuation order for zones in Beaufort, Colleton, and Jasper counties, with the exception of Edisto Beach.

Although the storm's winds will likely diminish rapidly after making landfall, the heavy rain will persist as it stalls over portions of North Carolina and Virginia.

Currently, 1,600 National Guard members are on duty and ready to deploy - a number Livingston said likely will grow to more than 3,000.


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