Hurricane Florence: 'We are planning for devastation'

Amtrak is canceling service south of Washington ahead of Hurricane Florence

North and SC are anticipated to bear the brunt of Florence, which the National Hurricane Center said had strengthened to a Category 3 storm.

The category 4 hurricane is expected to make landfall in the USA late Thursday night, bringing heavy winds and up to 30 inches of rain.

The watch covers the area from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, north to the North Carolina-Virginia border, according to a statement issued Tuesday morning.

The hurricane center said the storm is expected to strengthen and speed up as it approaches the Carolina coast in the coming days.

It added a stall or forward speed would also greatly increase inland flooding of streams and rivers.

And the storm surge, which could be as much as 12 feet in some areas, will be on top of sea level rise from climate change.

Officials say the storm could be reminiscent of Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas in August 2017.

It is expected to make landfall in the US, Thursday as an "extremely dangerous" hurricane according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Florence, a powerful Category 4 storm, is closing in on the Southeast, bringing threatening winds, a high storm surge and tons of rain.

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The nearly 500-mile wide storm swirling towards the USA east coast "could be the most risky storm in the history of the Carolinas", the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) administrator, Brock Long, warned on Tuesday afternoon.

"Florence is rapidly strengthening this morning", the National Hurricane Center advisory said. That's because Florence is a giant storm, with winds extending 150 miles from its center. Other counties are evacuating low lying and flood prone areas. US President Donald Trump signed declarations of emergency for both North Carolina and SC, freeing up federal money and resources for storm response.

If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rain to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other risky conditions.

"We do not want to risk one SC life in this hurricane", the governor told reporters. Trump has declared states of emergency for all three states.

AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel N. Myers said: "There will be extensive damage inflicted by Hurricane Florence due to its predicted path, which is perpendicular to the coast, rather than at an oblique angle".

Liz Browning Fox was planning to ride out the storm on the Outer Banks, defying evacuation orders.

Airlines, including American and Southwest, have started letting passengers change travel plans that take them into the hurricane's possible path.

Simpson said the coverage and attention on Florence is a reminder for New Englanders of the importance of being vigilant during hurricane season and preparing for severe weather "way before any potential event".

Southwest Airlines said travelers booked to fly from six cities from Baltimore to SC can rebook their flights within 14 days of their original dates with no additional cost.

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