'Monster' Hurricane Florence to pummel U.S. Southeast for days

'This is a big storm': Results could be catastrophic

Despite governor’s order, Beaufort County schools will remain closed Wednesday

The National Hurricane Center measured wind speeds of over 50 mph 100 miles out from Florence's center. Now a Category 4 storm, it's possible that it could strengthen even more as it moves swiftly through the Atlantic Ocean.

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast", the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., said, "and that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew".

The incoming storm has prompted mass evacuations, primarily along the coastlines of North and South Carolina, and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Tuesday that his state is in "a very deadly and important game of chess with Hurricane Florence".

"This will be a storm that's going to be far larger than we have seen in perhaps decades", Trump said.

As Hurricane Florence continues to move toward the northwest at 15 miles per hour, we will see an increase in wind speed and rain chances starting Thursday morning. "If we try to leave, we'll just get stuck in the rain", she said.

The approaching storm also prompted commodity handler Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] to make plans to close meat processing plants in West Columbia, South Carolina, and Dayton, Virginia, on Friday.

Many forecasters are comparing the rainfall potential from Florence to Hurricane Harvey, which caused historic flooding in the Houston area.

Forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

The National Hurricane Center's latest predictions Wednesday had Florence hovering off Southeast shores for more than two days before making landfall near the North Carolina/South Carolina border, perhaps not until Saturday. "There will be flooding in inland areas as well".

Similar to Hurricane Harvey - the largest rainfall event in US history - Florence could bring heavy, sustained rainfall over the Carolinas, delivering up to 40 inches in some areas, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). "People need to stay vigilant Thursday night through the weekend, and I would say into next week". More to come on this part of the forecast. Lennon, the chair of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Department at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, says the biggest mistake during Hurricane Katrina - which claimed 1,833 lives - was that officials only ordered evacuations 24 hours before it hit New Orleans in 2005, and by then it was too late.

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

The hurricane is expected to weaken into a tropical depression as it continues westward into SC and Georgia.

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