Hurricane Florence Shifts Course, Will Make a 'Grand Tour' of Southeastern States

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Enough rain could fall to break North Carolina's record for a tropical storm - 24 inches - set near Wilmington during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations at the Weather Service's national prediction center. In Virginia, officials have evacuated one state prison, though local jails in the affected area are planning to keep inmates in place after stockpiling food and fuel, the Virginian-Pilot reports.

Appeals to stay safe came from as far away as space as German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted pictures of the monster storm taken from the International Space Station along with the warning: "Watch out, America!"

Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen has signed an executive order prohibiting anyone from entering the ocean, effective until the city says otherwise.

The storm is expected to make landfall early Friday morning near Wilmington, North Carolina. This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and SC but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend. Executives in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia declared emergencies earlier in the week.

Still, the potential for coastal flooding remains a concern, they said. "We are ready. We're as ready as anybody's ever been". Also, for residents and property owners in flood-prone zones, do not forget to protect your property by moving valuables to higher levels and keep important documents in a waterproof container.

North and South Carolina's state governments said it is up to individually operated nursing homes outside of mandatory evacuation zones to decide whether to move their medically fragile patients.

Across several eastern states, residents scrambled to leave as the Category 4 storm, with winds of 225kmh, approached.

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"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We will have a powerful storm surge and winds".

Incredible time-lapse footage filmed from a hurricane-hunting plane shows what's it's like to fly through the eye of Florence, the storm that's already forced more than 1 million people to evacuate. Its maximum sustained winds are expected to top 145 miles per hour before losing some steam near the coast.

Though Florence won't be making landfall until Friday, tropical-storm-force winds - 39 to 73 miles per hour (63 to 117 km/h) - will begin whipping through coastal regions as early as tomorrow, making it exceptionally unsafe to be outside, Graham said.

The storm is continuing to follow the same track, heading into SC after making landfall near Wilmington. "I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas".

Air Canada and Alaska Airlines have canceled their flights in and out of RDU on Thursday, but had not made any announcements about Friday as of 9 p.m. Wednesday.

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