U.S. beach town braces for powerful Hurricane Florence

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U.S. beach town braces for powerful Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall in the Tar Heel State on Friday.

The "major" hurricane was about 845 kilometres south-southeast of Bermuda on Monday and moving toward land at approximately 20 km/h, according to an advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Upon immediate landfall, the threats are you standard hurricane threats - storm surge, strong winds, tornadoes.

Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said: "This storm is going to be a direct hit on our coast". North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., have declared states of emergency.

Officials have called for the mandatory evacuation of more than 1.4 million coastal residents across the Carolinas and Virginia.

Hurricane Katrina intensified to a Category 5 with winds up to 175 miles per hour in the Gulf of Mexico, before striking Louisiana as a Category 3 storm.

But, it's the water, not the wind, that has the potential to make the storm so deadly, experts say.

Florence could hit the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since Hazel packed 130mph (209kph) winds in 1954 and killed 19 people in North Carolina.

Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the East Coast of the United States.

In the case of Florence, there was an upper-level trough that helped to fuel the monster hurricane's rapid intensification.

"This one really scares me", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said. Unfortunately, the forecast is for the storm to stall out and drop a ton of rain in the Carolinas. It took Matheson and her husband almost the whole day Monday to drive the 100km off the barrier island.

About 25 years ago, the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew ripped through Florida with 175-mph winds, leaving millions without power and many neighborhoods completely destroyed. Currently, Florence has winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kilometers/hour), making it a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the National Hurricane Center reported.

In the six decades since, many thousands of people have moved to the coast.

"If you are now under an evacuation order, we strongly urge you to be cognizant, heed the warning and evacuate", Byard said.

"With time, the wind pushes the water into every nook and cranny you can think of". "All you have to do is look up at your ceiling, and think about 12 feet (of water)".

"I'm prayed up and as ready as I can get", Steven Hendrick said as he filled up gasoline cans near Conway, South Carolina.

Nuclear power plants in the area were preparing for the storm, with Duke Energy Corp's Brunswick and Harris plants in North Carolina's were most likely to be affected, said U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah.

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