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The storm, which is poised to affect millions this week in the southeastern USA, is "expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall" to North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, and parts of the Mid-Atlantic states, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

As Hurricane Florence strengthens in the Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center over night shifted its forecast south, raising the potential for tropic storm-force winds to parts of Florida as soon as Friday evening.

The center says the storm is moving west-northwest at 17 miles per hour, and has maximum sustained winds of about 130 miles per hour. Its winds could approach Category 5 strength, which means winds of 157 miles per hour (253 kph) or higher.

Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the Carolinas, poised to slam the coastline Friday. "You're going to be displaced from your home in coastal areas".

In contrast to the hurricane center's official projection, a highly regarded European model had the storm turning southward off the North Carolina coast and coming ashore near the Georgia-South Carolina line. The majority of the storm surge and rainfall issues are expected to remain for southeast North Carolina down into Charleston. Florence could bring life-threatening storm surges, up to 13 feet.

"This is not going to be a glancing blow", warned Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

While many people focus on the wind speed of storms, the danger often comes from the water flowing in from the ocean.

Storm -surge warning: South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina and Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico rivers as of 2 a.m. Wednesday, the NHC said.

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"If you don't have a plan in place, you still have time to do something", Jones said.

"I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful", Trump said Tuesday, adding that he thought the storms that hit the island were "probably the hardest" thus far due to "the island nature".

Meanwhile the hurricane is forecast to dump 1ft to 2ft 6in of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and farms.

The number of people told to evacuate in the Carolinas and Virginia has been estimated at more than 1 million, according to an NPR report. But despite that, bad things can happen when you're talking about a storm this size.

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid.

More than 10 million people are under a storm watch or warning in Virginia and the Carolinas, where up to 40 inches of rain could fall. Cars and trucks full of people and belongings streamed inland.


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