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South Carolina Shuts Down and Evacuates as Hurricane Florence Expands

South Carolina Shuts Down and Evacuates as Hurricane Florence Expands

"Don't bet your life on riding out a monster", he said. Flooding well inland could wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms. As the hurricane's warm, moist air piles up against the Appalachian Mountains, that moist air will be driven upward, where it will condense and fall as rain.

"This is going to produce heavy rainfall, and it may not move very fast".

A state of emergency has been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington amid concern over potential torrential rain and flooding. The federal government was "absolutely, totally prepared" for Florence, the president said, according to a live stream of his press conference at the White House. "For everyone's safety, I have issued the evacuation order well ahead of the storm in an effort to ensure everyone is able to seek refuge before the storm impacts the area". But getting out of harm's way could prove hard.

Southwest Airlines said travelers booked to fly from six cities from Baltimore to SC can rebook their flights within 14 days of their original dates with no additional cost.

Walmart stores in Charleston, S.C. shut down indefinitely at midnight last night. And Virginia's governor ordered a mandatory evacuation for some residents of low-lying coastal areas, while some coastal counties in North Carolina have done the same.

"This morning I drove around for an hour looking for gas in Cary".

"You never know, there could be tree missiles coming from any direction", she said.

In addition to flooding the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 12 feet (3.7 m), Florence could drop 20 inches to as much as 30 inches (51-76 cm) of rain in places, posing the risk of deadly flooding miles inland, forecasters said.

People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes, pull their boats out of the water and get out of town. Some gasoline stations also ran low on fuel. Some store shelves were picked clean.

Florence is a unsafe Category 4 hurricane Wednesday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour - down from 140 miles per hour overnight.

More news: Track Hurricane Florence as it heads for the East Coast

Florence is the most unsafe of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. Hurricane-strength winds have been expanding to a range of 40 miles from the eye of the storm.Information gathered on Tuesday by a hurricane-hunting aircraft suggests it will intensify again as it nears the coast, approaching the 157mph threshold for a worst-case category 5 scenario.

Two other storms were spinning in the Atlantic.

Maps of Florence's trajectory showed the center of the storm most likely to strike the southern coast of North Carolina. The Navy, Air Force and Army were moving ships and aircraft out of harm's way. It's going to destroy infrastructure.

The president was meeting with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency later Tuesday.

Hurricane Florence may be the strongest storm ever to make landfall north of Florida if predictions hold.

The European Model projects that Florence will track a bit further south, bringing more severe weather to SC.

"We could cover several states easily with the cloud cover alone", Graham said.

To hasten evacuations from coastal SC, officials reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so all major roads led away from shore. Typically, local governments in North Carolina make the call on evacuations.

Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky are also likely to feel the effects of the devastating hurricane, the NWS said.