South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered an evacuation of his state's entire coast and predicted as many as one million people would leave their homes. Eastern, Hurricane Florence was approximately 410 miles south of Bermuda and 975 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center. "With the size and the intensity and the current forecast track, it's a unsafe time for people in North Carolina with regard to this storm".
The mayor of Washington, DC also has declared a state of emergency as the nation's capital prepares for heavy rains, flooding and power outages related to Hurricane Florence.
"There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall inland and damaging hurricane-force winds", a 5 a.m. advisory said.
Florence could hit the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since Hazel packed 209 km/h winds in 1954.
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"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", McMaster said in a press conference.
With severe weather in the forecast for other southeastern states, accommodations will be available as long as possible prior to potential landfall. High winds will bring down trees and power lines, so residents are urged to be prepared to go without electricity for several days.
"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".
Several meteorologists said Florence could do what Hurricane Harvey did previous year over Texas, dumping days of rain, although not quite as bad.
The chief meteorologist for WCBD-TV in South Carolina, Rob Fowler, told the BBC that Florence was getting bigger, and those even 100 miles away would feel the impact.
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The NFL game between the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks set for October 14 will also have to be played at the 90,000 capacity arena.
North Carolina governor Roy Cooper described the storm as "a monster".
The worst of the storm is expected to hit the USA in the early hours of Friday, with swells as high as 12ft forecast.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said an estimated 1 million people would be fleeing his state's coast, with eastbound Interstate 26 heading into Charleston and USA 501 heading into Myrtle Beach reversed to ease the exodus.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a "mesmerising loop" showing Hurricane Florence from space. "The term mandatory evacuation rings hollow because there's no good way to actually enforce it but if you call it something else people are not going to follow".
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