NOAA director warns of 'serious situation' ahead of Hurricane Florence

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Sustained winds were 130 miles per hour Tuesday morning, but it remains a Category 4 storm and is expected to intensify to near Category 5 status as it slows over very warm ocean water near North and SC.

"This paper doesn't really say what we've had so far, if there's a trend", said Bhatia. "This is not just a coastal event".

"Life-threatening storm surge is forecast along the South Carolina, North Carolina and Southeast Virginia coasts Thursday and Friday", announced Governor Henry McMaster - (R) South Carolina.

"The atmosphere overall, before the potential landfall, certainly looks like we are going to have a very unsafe hurricane on our hands", Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore told the Wilmington (N.C.) StarNews.

"The water could overtake some of these barrier islands and keep on going".

Today, Florence is still sitting over warm, moist waters, which are fueling its howling winds. "All you have to do is look up at your ceiling, and think about 12 feet (of water)".

The NHC warned they're likely to cause "life-threatening surf and rip current conditions".

What's more, the research found that storms of super extreme intensity, with maximum sustained winds above 305kph, also became more common. It could also unleash a catastrophic storm surge, possibly reaching more than 20ft high, depending on the tides when it hits land.

This means the storm will have less of an impact in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia and more of an impact on southern North Carolina, South Carolina and northern Georgia.

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On Monday, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for residents living along the entire 187-mile long SC coast. ABC reported that Boeing has stopped its operations in SC because of the threat.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate including from the Eastern Shore, another popular beachfront destination.

The City of Raleigh recommends people avoid running dishwashers and clothes washers, limit the amount of water used for showering and limit the amount of toilet flushing during a storm. Coastal areas in both Carolinas have taken steps to evacuate residents and tourists, including a mandatory evacuation in SC. Computer models predict more than 3 feet of rain in the eastern part of North Carolina, a fertile low-lying plain veined by brackish rivers with a propensity for escaping their banks.

In Charleston, South Carolina, some residents were making preparations to leave Tuesday while others planned to ride out the storm.

On the opposite side of the country, officials in Hawaii are warning residents and tourists to brace for the arrival of Tropical Storm Olivia.

Airlines, including American and Southwest, have started letting passengers change travel plans that take them into the hurricane's possible path. Right now, Florence is wrapping up an eyewall replacement cycle, a sign that the storm is re-intensifying and could grow larger.

"The time to prepare is nearly over", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper at a Wednesday morning news conference.

"If you ask a Guardsman, 'Why did you join the Guard, ?' they will tell you, 'This is why I do this, for my community", said McCarty.

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