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Hurricane Florence: Over one million ordered to evacuate US states

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. NASA/Handout via REUTERS

Hurricane Florence: Over one million ordered to evacuate US states

Hurricane Florence: Over one million ordered to evacuate US states

Hurricane Florence, currently a Category 4 storm, is bearing down on the US eastern seaboard forcing authorities to issue mandatory evacuation orders amid fears of “life-threatening” floods and storm surges up to three metres high.

More than a million people living along the coastlines of Virginia and the Carolinas have been ordered to evacuate their homes on Tuesday, as parts of America’s mid-Atlantic coast brace for what could be the most powerful storm to ever hit the region.

AccuWeather meteorologists believe that Florence will reach the Carolina or Virginia coasts and pose a serious threat to lives and property late this week.

There is the potential for Florence to stall or significantly reduce its forward speed as it nears the coast, which could prolong the effects of damaging winds, storm surge flooding and beach erosion. A stall or slow forward speed would also greatly enhance inland flooding of streams and rivers.

“There’s never been a storm like Florence. It was located farther north in the Atlantic than any other storm to ever hit the Carolinas, so what we’re forecasting is unprecedented. Also, most storms coming into the Carolinas tend to move northward, and this storm looks like it’s going to stall over the region and potentially bring tremendous, life-threatening flooding,” AccuWeather Vice President of Forecasting and Graphics Operations Marshall Moss says.

Florence “is particularly big, particularly strong and … there’s nothing stopping it”, the South Carolina governor Henry McMaster said at a news conference on Monday. “And when it hits the Gulf Stream in warmer water, it’s going to [intensify] even more.”

McMaster ordered the evacuation of coastal areas to start at noon on Tuesday as Florence approaches. He said the storm surge could reach as high as 10ft (3m) and estimated that 1 million residents would be leaving the coast.

President Donald Trump has in a series of Tweets urged residents to “be safe”.

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