Hurricane Florence packing a 'Mike Tyson punch', says top United States official

Will Hurricane Florence Strengthen into a Rare Category 5 Storm

A National Weather Service forecaster in Wilmington, North Carolina, said: 'This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast.

Wind speeds of risky Hurricane Florence decreased slightly Wednesday afternoon to 120 miles per hour according to the 5 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster", he said.

Mandatory evacuation orders impacting as many as 1.7 million people are in place along the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, and all three states are under a State of Emergency along with Maryland.

Hurricane Florence is now expected to head more directly west after making landfall, crossing through SC. "This storm is extremely risky". It may move a little north into Virginia or a little south into SC.

Hurricane Florence is expected to bring high winds to North Carolina's coast by Thursday afternoon. Yet some of the big wildcards are how much Florence will hit Charlotte and the Washington, D.C. area.

At 5 a.m., the storm was centered 575 miles (925 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph). Florence is now heading for ocean water with surface temperatures of around 85 degrees, meaning it will likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.

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It's all eyes on Hurricane Florence over the next several days. The Triad has around a 50% chance of having sustained Tropical Storm force winds.

"This has an opportunity of being a very devastating storm". During the massive gridlock preceding Hurricane Rita in 2005, which saw around 2.5 million people fleeing the area, a bus full of elderly patients caught fire and led to the death of two dozen passengers.

The following schools have either closings or delays on Thursday and Friday.

"That means the more trees that could fall, the more power outages", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

Parts the eastern seaboard of the United States will be deluged with 40 inches of rain and suffer a "Mike Tyson punch" from Hurricane Florence, emergency planners warned today. Just adding up the store bases in North and SC and Virginia is an oversimplification, he argues, while his research suggests that only low- to mid-single-digit percentages of most companies' stores will be affected.

The National Hurricane Center said despite the decrease in winds, the size of the wind field has increased.

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