Hurricane Florence: ′Life-threatening monster′ forces mass evacuation | News | DW | 12.09.2018
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Hurricane Florence: 'Life-threatening monster' forces mass evacuation

Officials have described Hurricane Florence as a potential "once in a lifetime" storm. North Carolina and neighboring states are preparing for days of catastrophic storm surges, winds and floods.

Tens of thousands of people fled from the North and South Carolina coastline on Tuesday as Hurricane Florence churned towards the US East Coast. 

The Category 4 hurricane is expected to "bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states," the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned in its update at 00:01 GMT on Wednesday.

Read more: Will extreme weather become even deadlier?

Some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been given voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders ahead of the storm's expected landing on Thursday or Friday.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned that people in evacuation zones "need to get out now."

"This is not a storm that people need to ride out," Cooper told reporters. "This is a storm that is historic, maybe once in a lifetime."

Officials in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC have all declared states of emergency and told residents to prepare for flooding and extended power outages.

Packing winds of up to 220 km/h (140 mph) late Tuesday, Florence is expected to further strengthen through Wednesday before slightly weakening on Thursday as it nears the Carolinas.

"Florence is forecast to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through landfall," the NHC warned, with storm surges of up to 13 feet (4 meters) inundating coastal areas.

The NHC warned that hurricane force winds may extend 65 kilometers from the center and tropical storm-force winds may reach 240 kilometers outward. 

As the hurricane moves inland, 38 to 63.5 centimeters (15 to 25 inches) of rain accumulation are expected, NHC said. In some areas as much as 89 centimeters of rain may fall. 

The rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and river flooding.

More than 5.4 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches. Another 4 million people were under a tropical storm watch.

Read more: Weather and climate disasters made 2017 costliest year for US

Last year, the United States was hit by three major hurricanes. Hurricane Maria killed about 3,000 people in Puerto Rico, causing widespread criticism of the Trump administration's response.

Hurricane Harvey killed 68 people and caused catastrophic flooding in Houston, while Hurricane Irma caused 129 storm-related deaths in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina

cw/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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