"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".
Coastal North Carolina may receive up to 40 inches (100 centimeters) of rain, the National Hurricane Center said.
As of 11 a.m., the Category 4 storm was centered 485 miles (785 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, moving at 15 mph (24 kph) with the potential for 1 to 3 feet of rain in places - enough to touch off catastrophic flooding and an environmental disaster, too, if the water inundates the region's many industrial waste sites and hog manure ponds.
As of Tuesday, about 1.7 million people in North and SC and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents. It may move a little north into Virginia or a little south into SC.
"Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you". The only exception was Edisto Beach - that and other areas to the north remain under evacuation orders.
Liberty Mutual Insurance and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company write the most commercial property insurance coverage in North and SC, according to a report on Wednesday by Moody's, citing data from SNL Financial.
Florence is one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the eastern coast in decades. Tropical Storm Olivia is expected to move over Hawaii Wednesday or Thursday, KHNL reported. "It's chilling, even from space", said Alexander Gerst, an astronaut with the European Space Agency who now lives on ISS, on Twitter.
Higher sea levels to make a storm surge worse.
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The pivot in the forecasted track of Florence led Georgia's governor to declare a state of emergency for all 159 counties, home to 10.5 million people. The port in Charleston, South Carolina, though, was suspending operations from Thursday through Saturday and possibly on Sunday.
"There is a chance it only potentially grazes the coast and just has most of the hurricane remain offshore, in which case it would continue to be over warm water", she said.
Florence is predicted to turn more toward the northwest through Thursday - but then is expected to head more west-northwest and stall a bit over the Carolinas.
"While it remains possible the system becomes a tropical storm, we see no reason right now to believe it becomes more than that, and we're not convinced it develops at all", said Space City Weather's Eric Berger in the blog.
An additional 25 percent of deaths are related to rain, he said.
CNN reports dire word from FEMA associate administrator Jeff Byard, who warns that this storm is not to be reckoned with.
On Wednesday morning, the president urged those in the path of Florence to "get out of its way". "It's called Mother Nature".
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