'Monster' Hurricane Florence nears Carolina coast

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Florence is forecast to crawl up to the North Carolina coast late this week and turn slowly left - a development that would smash the Tar Heel State with life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and inundating rain while also endangering a large portion of SC.

Expected to make landfall by Friday, the impact of the storm will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, risky surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes.

The center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC on Thursday, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC on Thursday night and Friday, the NHC added.

Once the rain hits the coast, it will accumulate very quickly, causing some flash flooding and eventually likely overwhelming streams and rivers in the areas that get the most. Tornadoes are possible Thursday in eastern North Carolina.

Town Manager Mike Cramer said law enforcement officers will try to assess how many people are still on the island immediately south of Wilmington. Airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.

Residents of the Carolinas and neighboring states should consult local authorities for any evacuation orders and other preparation guidelines.

The hurricane center, in its 2 a.m. Thursday update, said Florence was 235 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C., moving northwest at 17 mph.

Quite simply, Hurricane Florence is a storm made worse by climate change.

The hurricane's immensity is why some 10 million people across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under storm watches and warnings, with meteorologists projecting Florence could become the most powerful storm to hit this part of the United States in at least 25 years.

Although the suggestive graphic was presumably an accident, it is somehow a fitting representation for a storm that has already been described as "tremendously big and tremendously wet" in a White House briefing from Donald Trump this Tuesday. Hurricane Helene and Subtropical Storm Joyce were off in the Atlantic, posing no threat.

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A hurricane warning was issued for South Santee River, SC, north to Duck, NC, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.

The latest storm surge has some areas under over 8 feet of water. Florence could bring life-threatening storm surges, up to 13 feet. However, the surge is expected to be accompanied by large and destructive waves, regardless of when the storm arrives.

Early on September 13, NASA's Aqua satellite's infrared data showed the clouds in the southern quadrant of Hurricane Florence appeared warmer than storms throughout the rest of Florence. But rail cars with vehicles bound for Charleston and export markets overseas have been moved to secure areas until the storm passes.

The Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads was closed Wednesday but planned to reopen Thursday on news that Florence had veered south.

Nevertheless, torrential rain will be moving ashore Thursday, continuing into Friday, and dumping one or perhaps even two feet of rain in some areas.

Olivia is the first tropical cyclone to make landfall on Maui in modern history, National Weather Service forecasters said.

To whip up a monstrous storm like the one chugging for the Carolinas you need a handful of ingredients - and Florence has them all.

Two big fuel pipelines stand in the hurricane's path, but analysts say they think the storm is unlikely to disrupt the flow of gasoline or other products. It is expected to turn away from the U.S.

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