One million asked to evacuate as Hurricane Florence closes in

Hurricane Florence as seen from the ISS on Monday morning

The National Weather Service in Wilmington expects to start predicting the storm surge over the next two days, according to Steve Pfaff with the NWS.

Its effects could be felt far in land, making the challenge of finding safe refuge even tougher. Here in North Carolina there's a growing potential many will deal with destructive winds, devastating flooding and possible tornadoes.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland have all declared a state of emergency and told residents to prepare for flooding and power outages.

In Virginia, mandatory evacuations begin 8 a.m. Tuesday for about 245,000 residents in a portion of Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore area, Gov. Ralph Northam said Monday.

Maximum sustained winds were nearly 85 miles per hour Monday morning, the hurricane center said.

The US president said he had spoken with governors of the threatened states, adding that the "federal government stands by, ready to assist 24/7".

Kim Buttrick, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said Florence and the two other hurricanes now over the Atlantic - Isaac and Helene - are not expected to have any direct impact on New England.

Major US military installments may be in the path of the Florence, including the largest Marine base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and the world's biggest Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia.

Florence regains hurricane strength, on track to hit U.S. East Coast
Some ships will stay behind because they're undergoing maintenance and may be tied down with additional mooring and storm lines. Large swells generated by Florence are already affecting Bermuda and portions of the East Coast and will continue this week.

Hurricane Florence continues to strengthen
A tropical storm watch was issued in the latest update across much of Hawaii, including Oahu, Maui, Hawaii counties. The governors of Virginia, Maryland, and North and SC have declared states of emergency ahead of the storm.

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SC governor Henry McMaster also suspended his campaign and asked President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration.

Hurricane Florence is seen from the International Space Station as it churns in the Atlantic Ocean towards the east coast of the United States, September 10, 2018. Florence was moving west-northwest at 13 miles per hour and had maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.

Grocery stores began selling out of water, milk and bread, and supply stores were struggling to stock batteries, plywood and generators as early as Sunday. Monday is the climatological peak date of hurricane season, the height of the eight-week period when the most powerful storms usually form, CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said. It has strengthened to a Category 4 a day earlier than predicted.

Beyond the damage from wind and high surf, Hurricane Florence is predicted to slow over the Carolinas where it may dump up to 30 inches (76 centimetres) of rain over much of North and SC.

"Plan for the worst, pray for the best".

"The forecast places North Carolina in the bull's-eye of Hurricane Florence, and the storm is rapidly getting stronger", he said.

Florence's impact could be increased as the Carolinas coastline is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change. That powerful storm was blamed for 21 deaths on the USA mainland, five in Puerto Rico and 24 more throughout the Caribbean.

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