US East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence

The view of Florence from space as she bears down on the east coast of the USA

The governor said those were "early warnings of the days to come".

Cooper said Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days".

Weak steering current will allow the hurricane to drift westward along the SC coast and inland, and center over the state's interior Sunday morning, the NHC projected. That doesn't include numbers from dozens of city-operated electricity providers.

Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut tore through the northern tip of the Philippines on Saturday packing winds of more than 200 km per hour (124 mph) along with torrential rain, killing three people and causing floods, landslides and power outages.

It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

The Miami-based center says the center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later today.

Schools in 26 of the state's 46 counties were closed from Tuesday. All seven of North Carolina's ferry routes were shut down.

The National Weather Service said 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches.

States up and down the East Coast have a great potential for severe weather.

Acting Department of Social Services Director Joan Meacham says shelters are about 12 percent full with the 4,000 residents.

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"But I'm staying", she said. The town was under evacuation orders, but 150 people were trapped there by the storm as of Friday morning.

Experts said this could be the strongest storm to hit the Carolina coast in more than 60 years. At this time, Florence was a Category 2 hurricane.

McMaster told reporters Thursday that up to 7 inches of rain in the state's northwestern mountains could mean landslides and risky conditions.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate. SC announced the decision on Wednesday. It was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina.

A few locals briefly walked into the sand but were quickly sandblasted back by stiff winds.

The hurricane's storm surge - the wall of water it pushed in from the Atlantic - had "overwhelmed" New Bern, a town of about 30,000 people at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.

Northam spoke at a news conference Thursday with emergency management officials.

Port preparations extended from Savannah, Ga., north to Baltimore, as forecasters at the National Hurricane Center issued increasingly narrowed predictions for the passage of Hurricane Florence.

No. 3 USA railroad operator CSX Corp provides service to the Port of Wilmington and will close the gates at its intermodal terminals in Savannah, Charlotte and Jacksonville on Wednesday evening, stopping inbound and outbound truck container traffic.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.

Forecasters at the hurrican center warned that as much as 101 centimeters (40 inches) of rain could fall on some parts of North Carolina, with a storm surge of up to 4 meters (13 feet).

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