Carolina coast braces for 'Mike Tyson punch' from hurricane

At 2 p.m. EDT, Florence, weakening as it moves inland at 5 mph, was 35 miles west-southwest of Wilmington and 35 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, packing sustained hurricane-force winds of 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center showed Florence as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour moving west-northwest at 16 miles per hour.

More than a million people have been ordered to evacuate coastal areas ahead of the arrival of Florence, which boasts sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.

Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water.

Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.

He urged people to leave immediately rather than face the wrath of the "once in a lifetime" storm.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — Hurricane Florence put a corridor of more than 10 million people in the crosshairs Wednesday as the monster storm closed in on the Carolinas, uncertainty over its projected path spreading worry across a widening swath of the Southeast.

"They haven't seen anything like what's coming at us in 25-30 years, maybe ever", President Trump said while appearing with FEMA officials in the Oval Office on Tuesday.

While some of the computer forecasting models conflicted, the latest projections more or less showed the storm shifting southward and westward in a way that suddenly put more of SC in danger and imperiled Georgia, too.

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The hurricane is expected to make landfall somewhere in the Carolinas early Friday.

"Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighbourhood making sure my neighbours are fine because nobody can get in here".

Jeff Byard of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was imperative locals heed the evacuation warnings.

A state of emergency has been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington amid concern over potential torrential rain and flooding.

"This storm is going to be a direct hit", he added.

Hurricane Florence is now expected to head more directly west after making landfall, crossing through SC. "That means the more trees that could fall, the more power outages", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

Authorities in neighboring North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination, and parts of coastal Dare County. "And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was", he said.

"The big picture: There are several characteristics of the changing climate that are helping to increase the risks of damage from Hurricane Florence, even though global warming is not directly causing such a storm to spin up".

A hurricane warning along with a storm surge warning has been issued for Wilmington and surrounding areas.

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