'Don't play games with it': Florence takes aim at Carolinas

Florence roars back to hurricane status

Florence roars back to hurricane status

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Florence not once but twice Monday, saying the storm will continue to strengthen as it targets the Carolinas later this week.

"It's likely we'll get significant flooding and high winds", he said.

The threat has sparked a rush of evacuation efforts in SC and North Carolina, with more than a million people urged to get out of Florence's way.

About 1.7 million people across the three states affected - North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia - have been told to leave their homes ahead of the storm's arrival.

Governors in SC and Virginia have also issued mandatory evacuation orders ahead of the storm. "We are mobilizing the state's resources to make sure we are prepared, and the people of SC must not hesitate to prepare for the possibility of a hurricane impacting our coast".

The National Hurricane Center shows tropical storm force winds nearing our region by Saturday. Some 27 per cent of the deaths have come from rain-driven flooding, sometimes hundreds of miles inland.

Parts of the southeastern coast that are not under hurricane warnings are under tropical storm or storm surge warnings, meaning life-threatening floods are possible.

The National Hurricane Center says storm surge from Hurricane Florence could be up to 13 feet in some areas of North Carolina.

The first mandatory evacuation order was issued at noon, and Cooper expects more later Monday and Tuesday.

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While a man who gave his name as Joe, a contractor from Carolina, admitted he was "scared" but said he had survived storms before and was determined to make it through this one.

Winds along the Carolina coast will reach tropical storm-force (39 miles per hour) early Thursday morning.

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified a photo of hurricane Florence as one of hurricane Helene; astronaut Ricky Arnold did not share a photo of the latter storm on Twitter.

Florence is now heading for ocean water with surface temperatures of around 85 degrees, meaning it will likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.

Hurricane Florence is rapidly intensifying and could strike a direct and risky blow anywhere from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic region later this week, possibly as a fearsome category 4, forecasters said. While some said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings, many on the East Coast prepared to heed evacuation warnings and move inland.

Arrival: Florence's landfall is expected late Thursday night or Friday morning.

Officials also warn that Florence is a wide, powerful storm, with plenty of moisture and high winds.

However, the National Hurricane Center predicts it could rise to 150 miles per hour winds just before landfall sometime Thursday night.

The NHC said it was still too soon to specify the exact timing, location, and size of the storm surge and flooding, but warned authorities to monitor the storm's progress.

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