'Monster' storm: Hurricane Florence is a rare threat in an unusual location

Sand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach N.C. as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast

Sand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach N.C. as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast

Forecasters said Florence was expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, then slow down and dump 0.3 to 0.6 meters of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms. Officials didn't reveal exactly which institutions would be evacuated due to security concerns, but said evacuated prisoners would get a free phone call to notify loved ones.

But what makes Florence so different from other storms this year?

Marshall: Well, if it does follow the path of come more toward Charlotte, when can we expect to see the greatest effect here in the Charlotte region?

And there's "a huge difference" in the size and type of damage Florence inflicts if it stays 50 miles (80 kilometers) off shore versus heading inland immediately, Landsea said.

Florence has it all: Hot ocean temperatures that fuel hurricanes.

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"We have a duty to everybody here in the city and we take that very seriously", Vest said. The National Hurricane Center is calling for 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimeters) of rain in North Carolina, with spots up to 40 inches (100 centimeters). Because the storm was so strong earlier in the week, it built up a wall of water which will push inland as the storm surge.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as merely a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.

The storm will slow down because of pushback from a trough - an extended area of low atmospheric pressure - now over Texas, Stacy Stewart, an NHC senior hurricane specialist, said in the update.

"This storm is going to knock out power days into weeks".

At 8:00 pm (0000 GMT), the eye of the storm was 335 miles (540 kms) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).

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In addition to tens of thousands of homes and businesses, five military bases and half a dozen nuclear power plants are also in the path of the storm.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Monday ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents.

Tropical Storm "Isaac" was spotted east of the Lesser Antilles and expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, while Hurricane "Helene" was moving northward away from land.

"This will be a storm that's going to be far larger than we have seen in perhaps decades", Trump said.

In addition, the Georgia Hospital Association has created a webpage, www.gha.org/HurricaneCentral, that Georgia Emergency Management will keep updated with evacuee information to include Georgia Parks space that is available at no cost to evacuees. Florence has weakened a bit over 24 hours, but it's also grown even larger - and it will likely dump torrential rain over North and SC through Monday. You're going to be displaced from your home in the coastal areas.

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