Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

USA capital under state of emergency, evacuation ordered

USA capital under state of emergency, evacuation ordered

But no matter where the monster storm ultimately crosses the southern East Coast of the US, Florence's high winds and heavy rains will hit communities for miles north, south - and even west.

Boeing Co suspended work on Tuesday at the SC plant where it assembles 787 widebody jetliners, and a Volvo automobile plant in South Carolina's evacuation zone was also closed, company officials said.

"The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you've ever seen".

"This is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years", President Donald Trump warned on Twitter.

The National Hurricane Center says a new report from an Air Force Reserve Unit hurricane hunter aircraft indicates that Hurricane Florence's top sustained winds have decreased slightly to 130 miles per hour (215 kph), with higher gusts.

At 2pm, the storm was centered 1360km southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 28kmh.

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. "We are totally prepared", Trump said at the White House. But getting out of harm's way could prove hard.

American and Southwest Airlines were among the carriers canceling flights to and from the hurricane zone starting Wednesday.

North Carolina is the country's leading producer of tobacco, second-biggest producer of hogs and a major poultry producer.

Michelle Stober loaded up valuables on Tuesday at her home on Wrightsville Beach to drive back to her primary residence in Cary, North Carolina.

"This morning I drove around for an hour looking for gas in Cary".

People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes or get out of town.

"There's no water. There's no juices".

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The massive hurricane is closing in on the Carolinas and Virginia and could cause disastrous weather as far as Pennsylvania and Ohio. Wild horses on the barrier islands were expected to survive.

The new production facility is located near Charleston, a coastal city that falls within the National Weather Service's cone of uncertainty for a possible direct hit from the Category 4 storm. Tropical storm-force winds are expected to hit the coasts of South and North Carolina by the morning of September 13.

NHC forecasts showed the effects of Florence would be widely felt, with tropical storm-force winds extending almost 300 miles across three states.

Florence is the most risky of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. Isaac became a tropical storm again approaching the Caribbean, while Hurricane Helene was veering northward, no threat to land.

- Storm surge is also a major concern, potentially reaching 13 feet in parts of North Carolina. The Navy, Air Force and Army were moving ships and aircraft out of harm's way. The very centre of Florence's bullseye may be Camp Lejeune, the sprawling Marine Corps training base.

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

"This will be a storm that creates and causes massive damage to our country", Jeff Byard, Federal Emergency Management Agency associate administrator, told CNN on September 11. It's going to destroy infrastructure. The school said the decision came after discussions with West Virginia, the Atlantic Coast Conference and emergency management officials.

The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia have declared emergencies. "Make sure you have flashlights and batteries", Bowser said. Catastrophic floods could follow if the storm stalls inland, it said.

All signs pointed to a stronger, slower, wider and wetter hurricane in the days ahead, forecasters said.

At least 250,000 more people were due to be evacuated from the northern Outer Banks in North Carolina on Tuesday after more than 50,000 people were ordered on Monday to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of the state's barrier islands. Typically, local governments in the state make the call on evacuations. The affected area stretches from about North Brownsville to the Louisiana border, and potentially includes Houston, which is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

The storm is now 845 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. Her 88-year-old mother refused to evacuate and will stay with her.

"Our top priority is the safety of everyone involved and I appreciate the understanding of our fans", Virginia athletic director Carla Williams said.

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