Trump declares administration ‘completely ready’ for Hurricane Florence

And up to 3 million energy customers in North and SC could lose power for weeks.

The storm fell to a Category 2 Wednesday night, but faced with new forecasts that showed a more southerly threat, Georgia's governor joined his counterparts in Virginia and North and SC in declaring a state of emergency, and some residents who had thought they were safely out of range boarded up their homes. Industries like tourism and agriculture will likely suffer, and the losses won't be easily or quickly overcome. Flooding could prove devastating.

"Stay alert, stay safe, drink good beer", reads a chalkboard sign outside a bar in Wilmington, North Carolina, in the path of the approaching storm.

This is when Hurricane Florence is expected to be closest to us.

It could have been worse.

Rainfall will accumulate near 2 feet in North Carolina.

Florence has the potential for 1 to 3 feet of rain in places - enough to touch off catastrophic flooding and an environmental disaster, too, if the water inundates the region's many industrial waste sites and hog manure ponds.

Sea level along the coast of North Carolina and SC has risen more than a foot since 1950, as the warming ocean waters have expanded like a hot-air balloon, says climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck at the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability. High-tech auto plants co-exist with beachfront bed-and-breakfast inns and peanut farms.

Wilmington, just north of where Florence appeared headed for shore, grew empty and quiet on Wednesday.

The precipitation from Florence will start midday Thursday and then it will rain for four days, said CNN Meteorologist Tom Sater.More than 1 million people are under mandatory evacuations in Virginia and the Carolinas, where up to 40 inches of rain could fall.

"Bad things can happen when you're talking about a storm this size", Trump said Wednesday morning.

As Florence closed in, some residents weighed whether to ride it out.

SUNDAY: Pop-up showers possible over the course of the day.

In South Carolina, traffic in all lanes of Interstate 26 from Charleston to Columbia has been directed away from the coast, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said.

Its expected sluggishness is becoming more common, possibly a result of climate change, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientist and hurricane expert Jim Kossin.

Three hours to the northwest in Spartanburg, BMW's sprawling SUV factory remains open.

Hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean form when easterly winds coming off the coast of Africa organize clouds into tower-like structures. Spokesman Kenn Sparks said BMW is monitoring parts supply plants, which could be affected by the storm.

Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington states have all already declared states of emergency ahead of the storm.

Early on September 13, NASA's Aqua satellite's infrared data showed the clouds in the southern quadrant of Hurricane Florence appeared warmer than storms throughout the rest of Florence.

Florence's path remains uncertain. Officials worry that as many as 1,000 of the town's 6,300 residents are staying in the town, which is less than 5 feet above sea level.

But even inland dealerships are bracing for damage. The more the Great Lakes one wins, the more southerly Florence will be.

At the White House, President Donald Trump urged people to "get out of its way".

"We're seeing on social media, we're seeing comments and calls coming into our hotline that people are saying, 'Oh, it's only a Cat 2.' Well, only a Cat 2 has winds of up to 96 to 110 miles per hour", Derrec Becker, spokesman for the S.C. Emergency Management Division told The State on Thursday.

  • Carolyn Briggs