5 a.m. update: Hurricane Florences projected path shifts

5 a.m. update: Hurricane Florences projected path shifts

5 a.m. update: Hurricane Florences projected path shifts

If Florence stays on it's current path, the now - category 2 storm will make landfall along the Carolina coastline Friday morning, meteorologists said.

North Florida is still outside the cone of forecast tracks for the center of the storm, but the size of Florence means impacts will extend to a large area of the Southeast.

The National Hurricane Centre said it was a potentially catastrophic Category-4 storm, but was expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, which means winds of 157 miles per hour or higher.

Coastal residents along the Carolinas encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared its coast with winds and drenching rain that could last for days.

Beaufort County could see tropical storm winds between 30 and 40 miles per hour as early as mid-day Thursday, but the area is not likely to see any direct impacts from the storm until Friday "with the strongest winds being later Saturday and into Sunday", he said.

"We could get some rain and gusty winds".

The storm, which is building up over the Atlantic, is due to make landfall in either North or SC within the next few days, and is expected to be the worst storm to hit the area in 30 years.




What's more certain is beach erosion and risky surf conditions.

As of Tuesday (Wednesday NZT), about 1.7 million people in North and SC and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents. Tornadoes are possible Thursday in eastern North Carolina.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it closed the ports of Wilmington and Moorehead City in North Carolina and restricted port operations in Charleston, South Carolina. To reinforce the order to evacuate, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said "This is not a storm that you need to try to ride out". Tropical Storm Isaac was east of the Lesser Antilles and expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land.

I know that North Carolinians are a hardy bunch and we've seen nor'easters and hurricanes before, but this one is different.

The center also says the storm could become more powerful. Allison Jones said she's not taking any chances.

Following a statewide emergency declaration, Athens area hospitals and emergency service agencies on Wednesday prepared for what could be the most catastrophic hurricane to hit the mid-Atlantic coast in decades. 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. Cars and trucks full of people and belongings streamed inland.

As of Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

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