Gas prices on the U.S. East Coast are expected to surge this week ahead of and during Hurricane Florence's landfall, as residents have started to evacuate from the Carolinas and Virginia, for which U.S. President Donald Trump has declared that a state of emergency exists.
The National Hurricane Center's best guess was that Florence would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line, then push its rainy way westward with a potential for catastrophic inland flooding. Its winds could approach Category 5 strength, which means winds of 157 miles per hour (253 kph) or higher.
Highways clogged with people fleeing North and SC early Wednesday as monstrous Category 4 Hurricane Florence rumbled toward the eastern United States as the biggest storm there in decades. "You're going to be displaced from your home in coastal areas".
The monster storm showed signs of slowing down as it inched closer to the US, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Even so, the NHC does not say sustained winds above 40 miles per hour are likely in North Florida, giving it less than a 20 percent probability in the forecast map update at 2 a.m. today.
Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 300 miles ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swathe from SC to OH and Pennsylvania could get deluged. "If we try to leave, we'll just get stuck in the rain", she said. These conditions could persist this weekend depending on the track of Florence. Tropical Storm Isaac was expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land. However, it is becoming more certain that Florence will bring a unsafe storm surge to the Carolina coast and life-threatening flooding. "Now it might be time for the exam", Baxley said late in the morning.
"Honestly, it tears me up thinking that what if in the end of this, this is all we have left", Jones said.
Cooper and his SC counterpart, Henry McMaster, told the more than 1 million people who have been directed to leave that if they don't do so, they are on their own.
"Been through it!" Belli said, referring to Hurricane Hugo, which caused widespread damage in SC in 1989.
Florence's expanse has even captured the attention of the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station, who have been tweeting pictures of the storm back to Earth.
"This storm is a monster", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. Cars and trucks full of people and belongings streamed inland. The southeast coast of North Carolina will experience a prolonged storm surge reaching up to 9 to 13 feet from near the mouth of the Cape Fear to Cape Lookout.