Millions prepare for potentially catastrophic Florence

South Carolina's governor ordered the state's entire coastline to be evacuated starting at noon on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump signed declarations of emergency for both North Carolina and SC, freeing up federal money and resources for storm response.

Carrying winds of up to 220 km/h as a Category 4 storm, Hurricane Florence is expected to strengthen and possibly become a Category 5 storm on Tuesday.

Powerful Hurricane Florence grew larger on Tuesday and is expected to bring days of rain, deadly flooding and power outages lasting weeks after it slams into the U.S. Southeast coast later this week. It is expected to make landfall in the US, Thursday as an "extremely dangerous" hurricane according to the National Hurricane Center.

In a statement the centre said: "Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday".

Florence would reach Category 5 with sustained winds of 157 miles per hour or greater.

"Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of SC and is going to go way inshore".

So far, American Airlines flights have not been canceled due to the storm, but it is bracing for the worst and letting travelers potentially affected by the storm change their travel dates without paying change fees, normally around $200 plus a difference in fare, as per CNBC.

The relaxed rebooking policies include airports in the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia, with Southwest expanding its policy north to include Baltimore/Washington International, Reagan National and Dulles airports. "The threat will be inland, so I'm afraid, based on my experience at FEMA, that the public is probably not as prepared as everybody would like", said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"The seas are going to get extremely rough and so any boating should be discouraged until this thing moves inland and the seas drop off this coming weekend".

Simpson said the coverage and attention on Florence is a reminder for New Englanders of the importance of being vigilant during hurricane season and preparing for severe weather "way before any potential event". Another aspect of the forecast to notice is the highest intensity of the storm is predicted to occur before landfall and then there is likely to be some minor weakening prior to the eye crossing the land.

"You're going to get heavy rain, catastrophic life-threatening storm surge, and also the winds", Graham said.

"The forecast places North Carolina in the bull's-eye of Hurricane Florence, and the storm is rapidly getting stronger", he said.

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper described the storm as "a monster".

Florence could hit the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since Hazel packed 130 miles per hour (209 kph) winds in 1954. "In line with that order, Boeing will suspend operations at Boeing South Carolina today so our employees can properly evacuate".

  • Rogelio Becker