The powerful Hurricane Florence threatened to bring "days and days" of rain and potentially deadly flooding to the US southeast coast, North Carolina's governor warned on Tuesday, as some 1 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes.
Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall somewhere between North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Mid-Atlantic states on Thursday evening or Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Hurricane Florence will approach the coast of North Carolina and SC on Thursday or Friday.
The storm was located about 950 miles (1,530 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, at 5 a.m. ET (0900 GMT), according to the NHC, which warned it would be "an extremely unsafe major hurricane" through Thursday night.
Florence is a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 220 kilometers per hour and forecasters think it will gain more strength Tuesday or Wednesday.
"The forecast places North Carolina in the bull's-eye of Hurricane Florence, and the storm is rapidly getting stronger", he said.
Cooper and his counterparts in neighboring SC and Virginia ordered about 1 million people to evacuate coastal homes, including along the Outer Banks barrier islands.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam also issued mandatory evacuations to begin Tuesday morning for the most low-lying, flood prone areas of the state - the Eastern Shore and a section of coast identified by officials as "Zone A".
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The 15-day emergency signed by Bowser noted that Florence was "forecasted to produce high winds, rainfall and storm surge" with "serious widespread effects in the region". If you are in these areas, or have ties there, take the warning and evacuation orders seriously.
Hurricane Florence could cost the East Coast more than $170 billion and damage almost 759,000 homes and businesses, according to analytics firm CoreLogic.
North Carolina's football home opener versus UCF is canceled, the athletic department announced Tuesday.
Fox News' Todd Piro on preparations ahead of Hurricane Florence reaching the East Coast.
Seven other UNC athletic events are also canceled or postponed because of Hurricane Florence.
Although the storm's winds will likely diminish rapidly after making landfall, the heavy rain will persist as it stalls over portions of North Carolina and Virginia. That would mean more flooding rains across a large part of the U.S. South, expanding the damage, according to Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia.
The worst damage will occur to the north of where the hurricane makes landfall. The storm was traveling west at 6 miles per hour and had maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. "These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current onditions".
Last year, the United States was hit by three major hurricanes.