"Florence" is forecast to be an extremely dangerous major Hurricane when it nears the U.S. coast late Friday," according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Iran Press/America- Hurricane Florence, growing in size despite its weakening winds on Wednesday, crept closer to the U.S. East Coast as disaster mobilizations expanded south from the Carolinas into Georgia to counter the deadly threat of high seas and floods according to Reuters.

The centre of Florence, no longer classified as a major hurricane but still posing a grave threat to life and property, is expected to strike North Carolina’s southern coast on Friday, then drift southwest along the shoreline before moving inland on Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami.

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The storm’s maximum sustained winds were clocked late on Wednesday at 110 miles per hour (175 kph), down from a peak of 140 mph a day earlier, before it was downgraded to a Category 3, then a Category 2, on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of wind strength.

“While Florence has weakened below major hurricane intensity, the wind field of the hurricane continues to grow in size,” the NHC said in its latest bulletin.

“The time to prepare is almost over,disaster is at the doorstep and it’s coming in”, North Carolina Governor "Roy Cooper", told a morning news conference.

Downpours and flooding would be especially severe, lasting for days, if the storm stalls over land. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachians, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses could be flooded in North Carolina alone, Governor Cooper warned.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state. Similar declarations were made earlier in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

A view of Hurricane Florence is shown churning in the Atlantic Ocean in a west, north-westerly direction heading for the eastern coastline of the United States, taken by cameras outside the International Space Station, September 12, 2018. NASA/Handout via REUTERS

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia. By late Wednesday, authorities in North Carolina reported nearly 7,000 evacuees staying in 71 emergency shelters throughout the state.

An estimated 10 million people live in areas expected to be placed under a hurricane or storm advisory, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Centre.

Emergency preparations included activating more than 2,700 National Guard troops, stockpiling food, setting up shelters, switching traffic patterns so major roads led away from shore, and securing 16 nuclear power reactors in the Carolinas and Virginia.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it closed the ports of Wilmington and Moorehead City in North Carolina and restricted port operations in Charleston, South Carolina. All seven of North Carolina’s ferry routes were shut down.

Utility officials have warned that widespread power outages are likely and that it could take weeks to restore electricity.

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Sep 13, 2018 10:07 Asia/Tehran
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