'Big and vicious' hurricane closes in on southeastern US

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U.S. President Donald Trump is expressing confidence the federal government is prepared for this week's onslaught of Hurricane Florence, which is predicted to be one of the most powerful storms in almost three decades to slam into the mid-Atlantic region.

Cooper and his counterparts in neighboring SC and Virginia ordered about 1 million people to evacuate coastal homes, including along the Outer Banks barrier islands.

"This storm is a monster", North Carolina Governor RoyCooper said.

A state of emergency has been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington amid concern over potential torrential rain and flooding.

"Unfortunately, Hurricane Florence is setting up to be a devastating event in the Carolinas and central Virginia as well", he said. "It's going to destroy homes", said Jeff Byard, an official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The storm, a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, was expected to grow stronger and larger over the next few days, the NHC said.

President Trump approved an emergency declaration for North Carolina on Monday, and tweeted that his administration will be there for to help those in need. Federal Government stands by, ready to assist 24/7. Information gathered Tuesday by a hurricane-hunting aircraft suggests it will intensify again as it nears the coast, approaching the 157 miles per hour (253 kph) threshold for a worst-case Category 5 scenario.

Florence could hit the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since Hazel packed 130 miles per hour (209 kph) winds in 1954.

With winds now at 140 miles per hour (225 km per hour), the storm was a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and expected to get bigger and stronger, the NHC said. In the six decades since then, many thousands of people have moved to the coast.

Chris Brace, from Charleston, S.C. lowers hurricane shutters on a client's house in preparation for Hurricane Florence at Sullivan's Island, S.C.,. "We're taking the necessary precautions to prepare the plant for the impending storm". "However, if the storm does stall, it could drop 10-20" of rain, leading to flooding well inland.

Florence's projected path includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in huge lagoons.

"When these environmental wind patterns weaken, there is no mechanism to continue moving the [tropical cyclone]", Sarah Griffin, a tropical cyclone expert at the University of Wisconsin, told us.

Kathleen O'Neal, a resident of Ocracoke Island in North Carolina's Barrier Islands, said she, her husband and son would ride out the storm.

"No matter how many times I see it, I'm blown away by the attractive, sunny skies at the heart of these monsters", sciaroyal wrote.

"I'm telling them to go inland, but I'm anxious about the rain and tornadoes too", Roberts said. "Normally, a landfalling tropical cyclone just keeps on going inland, gradually dissipating and raining itself out".

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