Carolina coast braces for 'Mike Tyson punch' from hurricane

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The evacuations continued as Florence weakened a bit in its charge towards the East Coast, downgrading from a Category 3 storm to a Category 2, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest update.

"Don't play games with it".

"Due to impacts from Hurricane Florence, an evacuation order has been issued for coastal SC, including Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley counties, beginning at noon Tuesday, Sept. 11", a spokesperson for Boeing said by email.

At 11:00 am (1600 GMT), the eye of the storm was about 485 miles (785 kms) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving in a northwest direction at 15 mph (24 kph).

At minimum, Florence should bring 1 to 2 inches of rain to the Upstate, LaCorte said.

The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places.

Areas along the coast from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, NC, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers may experience storm surges from 9 to 13 feet. Shelters in the city were filling and some people were being bused inland to Raleigh, even though some residents there were told they might have to evacuate because of flooding.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said: "We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst".

The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump had spoken with state and local officials, assuring them the federal government was prepared to help.

He says the time to flee Hurricane Florence is now.

The National Hurricane Center's projected track had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast starting Thursday night before finally blowing ashore.

Even with some weakening that's predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a risky major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.

Officials in at least one area that ordered an evacuation will be going to homes to ask people planning to ride it out for information on their next of kin, CNN reported Wednesday. North and SC and Virginia declared emergencies earlier in the week.

Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird. "He lives in North Carolina".

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

"The longer it stays, the more wind, the more rain".

Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less unsafe, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion. "Also, a little creepy".

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