'It Wants to Get Stronger': NOAA Hurricane Hunter Flies into Florence

The storm strengthened from 130 mph to 140 mph and is Category 4 the NHC said

The storm strengthened from 130 mph to 140 mph and is Category 4 the NHC said

The National Weather Service said 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches.

A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Florence was 750km south-southeast of Bermuda and the centre of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas yesterday, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

Early Wednesday afternoon in North Carolina, the storm was centered 700 kilometers (435 miles) off the coast, moving at 26 kph (16 mph) towards the USA coastline.

Duke Energy officials say Florence will knock out power to an estimated 1 million to 3 million customers in North and SC.

"But I'm staying", she said.

NOAA also released another video shot from Kermit, giving a more prolonged look at the eye of the storm.

Forecast models show Florence could bring a storm surge of nine to 13 feet and could bring up to 20 inches of rain along the coast.

As the trough moves east, it will disrupt the winds that steer the hurricane, Stewart said.

"I went out to try and get all the extra things, they tell you to prepare for seven days with no power, so you got to think about having canned food, water, bread and that could not be found", she said. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm's centre reaching the coast Friday.

Hurricane Florence has developed into a major storm over extremely warm water, Ginis said.

The wide storm weakened to a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday and forecasters expect it to weaken further as it nears the shore.

"We are completely ready for hurricane Florence, as the storm gets even larger and more powerful".

"We are already experiencing heavily impacted traffic on some of the evacuation routes", said Jeff Byard, the associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Florence will likely strike the East Coast with life-threatening storm surge, destructive winds and massive inland rainfall flooding.

"This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective", University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said.

"The biggest thing is you're always anxious about yourself and friends and family - and whether they'll have a place to come back to", he said. You're going to be displaced from your home in the coastal areas.

Despite the drop in maximum sustained winds, forecasters stress that this hurricane is not to be taken lightly.

Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.

While one man concluded: 'We are about to get pounded, but since we have absolutely no control over it, all you can do is laugh, and pray for the best'.

More than 1.5 million people have been told to flee their homes as Hurricane Florence barrels toward The Eastern seaboard.

"This is a very unsafe hurricane", Mr McMaster said, adding that the evacuation order for coastal counties was "mandatory, not voluntary".

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