'Don't play games with it': Florence takes aim at Carolinas

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The latest tracks for Category 4 storm Florence, released early Wednesday morning, now have the storm staying farther south, following the European model.

The hurricane center, in its 5 a.m. Thursday update, said Florence was 205 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C., moving northwest at 15 mph.

While the storm's maximum sustained winds edged lower on Wednesday, those of tropical-storm-force expanded outward, extending 195 miles and putting more people at risk when the storm finally comes ashore, expected near the border separating the Carolinas.

On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas today, and approach the coast of North Carolina or SC in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday and move slowly near the coastline through Saturday.

"Florence is expected to weaken as it moves away from North Carolina regardless of whether it goes within or down the coast - whatever the track ends up being".

The firm will have a better estimate for total insured losses after Florence makes landfall.

By Sunday, clouds from Florence will increase around here, with rain arriving by Sunday night into Monday.

For anyone needing a place to stay to escape the hurricane, both North Carolina and SC are updating their lists of emergency shelters.

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All four major United States airlines have said they are capping selected airfares below what last-minute tickets would cost. Farther south, in Carolina Beach, the northern end of the town was being swamped as waters crashed over the dunes.

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Along the coast, floodwaters have been hitting inland towns near rivers that normally discharge into the ocean. At the same time, some areas can see up to 15 inches of rain, with a few places experiencing up to 30 inches.

The hurricane could also produce heavy and excessive rainfall - up to 40 inches in isolated areas in the Carolinas and anywhere between 6 to 12 inches elsewhere in the Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic region.

The Edwards family boards up the windows of their beach cottage while preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Florence on September 11, 2018 in Surf City, North Carolina.

At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other storms, Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175miles.

Areas along the coast from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, NC, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers may experience storm surges from 9 to 13 feet.

As the day progresses we'll see partly cloudy skies with a slight chance for a shower or storm.

If anyone left out there doubts Florence's sheer capacity to wreak havoc in the coming days, this NOAA satellite image (from former NASA scientist and Professor Marshall Shepherd) should do the convincing. We're still watching the forecast track fairly closely.

Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency invoked a former boxing champion to warn residents that Florence would bring "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast".

Moreover, high tides around noon and midnight these next few days will make the storm surges even worse, Samson said.

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