Lawmakers express faith in federal preparedness, brace for Hurricane Florence

With maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center, Florence's most unsafe aspect could be the amount of rain it could dump as it moves up the East Coast after making landfall, with flooding and power outages expected across the Carolinas, Virginia and West Virginia early on.

Hurricane Florence churned Tuesday toward the U.S. Eastern Seaboard as a storm of "staggering" size, forcing a million people to evacuate the coast. A storm with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour classifies as a Category 3 major hurricane, according to the NHC.

SC also will receive federal assistance after President Donald Trump approved a federal emergency declaration for the Palmetto State.

Hurricane Florence, bearing down on the Carolina coast and expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday - its winds and high surf will arrive as much as a day earlier - is predicted to carry fearsome Cat 4 and borderline Cat 5 winds.

The mayor of Washington, DC also has declared a state of emergency as the nation's capital prepares for heavy rains, flooding and power outages related to Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Florence is gearing up to pound the eastern USA coastline as it racks up maximum winds of 220 km/h, making it an "extremely dangerous" storm system which strength is only expected to grow.

"It's an extremely risky, life-threatening, historic hurricane. the forecast shows Florence stalling over North Carolina, bringing days and days of rain".

The weather system is now a category four storm carrying sustained winds of about 215km/h. "We are totally prepared", Trump said at the White House, adding that the administration would go to Congress for emergency funding.

So far, American Airlines flights have not been canceled due to the storm, but it is bracing for the worst and letting travelers potentially affected by the storm change their travel dates without paying change fees, normally around $200 plus a difference in fare, as per CNBC.

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Meanwhile, a storm surge watch was sent out for Edisto Beach in SC to the North Carolina-Virginia border as well as Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.

In addition, forecasters expect Florence to drench areas along its direct path with 38 to 50 centimeters of rain.

"A high pressure system, known as a Bermuda high has been in place, forcing Florence to take a path south and west of what we typically see", Klotz said.

According to CNN, weather experts say the storm is most likely to hit in the Carolinas.

"This morning, I received a full briefing from the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Hurricane Florence".

Should Florence make landfall as a Category 4, it would be the first Category 4 hurricane since Hazel in 1954 to hit North Carolina. Isaac became a tropical storm again approaching the Caribbean, while Hurricane Helene was veering northward, no threat to land.

The worst of the storm is expected to hit the United States in the early hours of Friday, with swells as high as 12ft forecast. Evacuation orders have also been issued.

"We could cover several states easily with the cloud cover alone", Graham said.

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