Millions prepare as Hurricane Florence approaches Southeast coast of the U.S.

NOAA  National Hurricane Center
Hurricane watches are posted for much of the South and North Carolina coasts and up to southern Virginia

NOAA National Hurricane Center Hurricane watches are posted for much of the South and North Carolina coasts and up to southern Virginia

According to National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florence is expected to strengthen to a potentially Category 5 storm before it makes landfall somewhere along the South Carolina-North Carolina border.

Authorities are warning about Florence's potential to unleash prolonged torrential rains and life-threatening floods, down trees, knock out electricity and submerge entire communities - especially if it slows to a crawl and lingers inland for several days, just as Hurricane Harvey stalled over Texas in 2017.

"This storm is a monster".

As he issued a mandatory evacuation order for the coastal region Monday afternoon, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster didn't mince words. While wind damage is still ordinarily covered, insurers that were stung by storms such as Sandy in 2012, which swamped NY and New Jersey, have inserted clauses in their policies that limit coverage and set high deductibles, particularly when storms reach hurricane status.

Liz Browning Fox was planning to ride out the storm on the Outer Banks, defying evacuation orders.

Some hoped for divine intervention.

Florence is anticipated to mainly impact South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

Florence could be the strongest hurricane to make landfall on the Carolinas since Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

The North and SC coasts are on high alert as residents brace for Hurricane Florence's brutal lashing.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed declarations of emergency for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, freeing up federal resources for storm response.

SC governor Henry McMaster said an estimated one million people would be fleeing his state's coast, with eastbound lanes of major routes reversed to ease the exodus. But getting out of harm's way could prove hard.

DAT Solutions reported the Labor Day holiday and the need to position freight ahead of Hurricane Florence led to an increase in spot truckload van and refrigerated freight rates during the week ended September 8. "This is not an arcing storm, this is coming right in at 90 degrees, and those are the worst storms as far as keeping their intensity", explains WeatherBELL Meteorologist Joe Bastardi.

Only a trickle of vehicles was going in the opposite direction, including pickup trucks carrying plywood and other building materials. "There's no canned goods", Kristin Harrington said as she shopped at a Walmart in Wilmington.

Category 4 hurricane winds are in the 130 to 156 miles per hour range, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"Interests in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states should monitor the progress of Florence". Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

"This one really scares me", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said. "It's still a very powerful, major storm that we have to take seriously". He said electric power could be out for weeks. It's going to destroy infrastructure.

Trump was being briefed by the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Oval Office on Tuesday.

The West Virginia-North Carolina State game was scheduled to start a few hours later in Raleigh, located about 30 miles east of Chapel Hill.

As South Carolina braces for Hurricane Florence's potential landfall, Clemson Cooperative Extension agents are offering reminders and resources for maintaining and preparing stormwater ponds in the event that severe weather strikes.

And the storm surge, which could be as much as 12 feet in some areas, will be on top of sea level rise from climate change.

The storm forced people to cut their vacations short along the coast.

"This is probably the only exercise I get this week", she quipped.

"The water could overtake some of these barrier islands and keep on going. Eighty-five degrees", Matheson said, pausing a moment.

Smithfield Foods Inc [SFII.UL] said it would shut down the world's largest hog-slaughtering facility in Tar Heel, North Carolina, on Thursday and Friday due to the hurricane.

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