Evacuees clogging highways ahead of Florence

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The Latest: Evacuees clogging highways ahead of Florence
 

  
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Latest on Hurricanes Florence and Isaac (all times local):
  
10:40 a.m.
  
South Carolina’s governor has ordered more than a million people living along the state’s coast to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence.
  
Gov. Henry McMaster says he’s preparing the state for winds as powerful as Hurricane Hugo, which plowed inland nearly 30 years ago and caused devastating damage.
  
McMaster said on CNN Tuesday that officials are “taking nothing for granted” with Florence predicted to make landfall Thursday. The storm is so huge that South Carolina won’t be spared even if it escapes the eye of the hurricane.
  
The evacuation order becomes mandatory at noon Tuesday, but cameras show traffic already backing up along the main interstate connecting Charleston and Columbia.
  
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10:30 a.m.
  
National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham is warning that the “staggering” size of Florence means its impacts will be felt far and wide.
  
Forecasters say hurricane-force winds extend up to 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the center of Hurricane Florence, and tropical storm-force winds reach up to 150 miles (240 kilometers) from its eye.
  
That means the hurricane will be dumping rain over multiple East Coast states, and it’s not just a coastal problem. With torrential rains in the Appalachian mountains, that water could easily cause flash floods.
  
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10:20 a.m.
  
President Donald Trump is canceling a campaign rally in advance of Hurricane Florence’s landfall.
  
His campaign says it’s canceling a Thursday event in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where he had been scheduled to stump for the Republican senate candidate, state attorney general Josh Hawley.
  
The campaign said the event was scuttled out of safety concerns. It was the second rally Trump cancelled this week due to the storm, following a Friday rally slated for Mississippi.
  
The massive hurricane is closing in on the Carolinas and Virginia and could cause disastrous weather as far as Pennsylvania and Ohio.
  
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8 a.m.
  
The National Hurricane Center says a new report from an Air Force Reserve Unit hurricane hunter aircraft indicates that Hurricane Florence’s top sustained winds have decreased slightly to 130 mph (215 kph), with higher gusts.
  
Florence is still a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to regain its top wind strength in the next day or so. It remains an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night.
  
The 8 a.m. forecast changes the storm surge watch for the eastern United States, with the worst impact, a surge of up to 12 feet, expected on a stretch from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout in North Carolina. It says total rainfall could reach 30 inches in some places, prompting life-threatening flash flooding from South Carolina to Northern Virginia.
  
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5:20 a.m.
  
Hurricane Florence has slightly increased in speed as it heads toward the U.S. East Coast.
  
The National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning that Florence is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph (24 kmh) and the storm will continue a slight increase in speed during the next couple of days.
  
The Miami-based center says the storm’s center was located about 410 miles (660 kilometers) south of Bermuda and about 975 miles (1570 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
  
Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 mph (220 kph) as it moved west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).
  
Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night.
  
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11:10 p.m.
  
Hurricane Florence continues to grow in size and magnitude as it barrels toward the U.S. East Coast.
  
The National Hurricane Center said Monday the monster storm will be close to Category 5 strength by Tuesday. A Category 5 storm has the potential to cause catastrophic damage.
  
“The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity,” the hurricane center said. Florence was a Category 4 storm late afternoon Monday.
  
At 11 p.m. EDT, the storm’s center was located about 465 miles (750 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda and about 1,085 miles (1745 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
  
Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 mph (220 kph) as it moved west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).
  
Some strengthening is expected during the next 36 hours, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.

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