People living in Hurricane Florence's path write messages for the storm

People living in Hurricane Florence's path write messages for the storm

While the storm is not expected to make landfall until the end of the week, Delta, United, and Southwest have already said they will waive change fees or fare differences, but it's American Airlines that is expecting the biggest hit, as the Charlotte Douglas Airport, directly in Florence's expected path, is the airline's second-largest hub.

- A nationally renowned hurricane expert compares Hurricane Florence with some of the worst disasters in North Carolina's history. The storm is set to bring heavy rains and damaging winds, particularly in areas along the Atlantic coast, and will be the most intense during the overnight hours of September 14. While it may or may not officially become a Category 5 storm, it will still be a major Hurricane at landfall. He has declared states of emergency for North and SC ahead of the storm, which frees up help from federal agencies.

As Hurricane Florence barrels toward the U.S. East Coast, over 1.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate in coastal areas from SC to Virginia. It is expected to intensify to near Category 5 status as it slows over very warm ocean water near North and SC.

Florence could hit the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since Hazel packed 130mph (209kph) winds in 1954 and killed 19 people in North Carolina.

"This storm is going to be a direct hit". At more than 470 miles across, Florence is 56% wider than the typical Atlantic hurricane. "That means the more trees that could fall, the more power outages", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

Many newcomers have moved to the coast in the almost 19 years since the last strong hurricane - Floyd - threatened the area.

How Is Hurricane Florence Affecting You?
National Hurricane Center says swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. Storm-force winds could begin buffeting the Carolina coast by Wednesday night, NHC forecasts showed.

More than 3ft of rain is expected in the eastern part of North Carolina, a fertile low-lying plain boasting brackish rivers with a propensity for bursting their banks. "All you have to do is look up at your ceiling and think about 12ft of water - that, folks, is extremely life-threatening".

Since then, the coastal population has grown by thousands of people.

"If you are now under an evacuation order, we strongly urge you to be cognizant, heed the warning and evacuate", Byard said.

"I'm prayed up and as ready as I can get", Steven Hendrick said as he filled up gasoline cans near Conway, South Carolina.

Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier said operators would begin shutting down nuclear plants at least two hours before hurricane-force winds arrive. Hurricane force winds extend 40 miles from Florence's eye and tropical storm force winds extend 150 miles.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Florence is expected to produce 15 to 20 inches of rain from a "prolonged and exceptionally heavy rain event" that may extend for "hundreds of miles" inland, with isolated totals to 30 inches over parts of North Carolina, Virginia and northern SC through Saturday.

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