Some South Carolina lane reversals to end

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

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Though Florence has weakened slightly, it's still a very unsafe storm, and a life-threatening storm surge and rainfall are expected.

"Simply put, when you have tens of thousands of people that are trying to get out of harm's way and they're all filling up at the same time, certainly it overwhelms how much gasoline can be gas stations".

"It's going to be bad", said Woody White, a county commissioner.

An intense wave, as well as heavy rains, will announce on Thursday on the coast of Las Carolinas, the arrival of Florence. After Florence's rain starts to fall this week, he said, the rainfall could continue through Monday.

As of 11 p.m., the storm was centered 280 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 17 mph.

Forecasters have warned of the devastating impact of this storm, especially as Florence will stall when the hurricane reaches land and hover over the Carolinas, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain until at least Saturday.

Once it makes landfall, Florence is expected to lash coastal communities with high winds and dump several feet of water.

Florence will bring large rainfall totals through Saturday in North Carolina, north SC and Virginia, causing catastrophic flash flooding.

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Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.

Evacuation orders for low-lying areas were issued Monday and continued Tuesday.

"I said, 'Why get on the road like this?" Of those who left, more than 4,000 had sought housing at emergency shelters across the state. He adds, "Businesses in Myrtle Beach are to have operations ceased and secured by 5 this afternoon".

States up and down the East Coast have a great potential for severe weather. Shelters in the city were filling and some people were being bused inland to Raleigh, even though some residents there were told they might have to evacuate because of flooding. Thinking of the outages likely to come, it also warns to use grills and generators outside - away from doors and windows.

Still, there are several other North and SC airports in the storm's path. But rail cars with vehicles bound for Charleston and export markets overseas have been moved to secure areas until the storm passes. "It just seemed like this was a better situation than going inland", he said.

Satellite images show Florence has maintained a distinct eye and is well-organized.

Analysts expect a temporary boost in gasoline demand as people flee Florence, followed by weaker demand during and immediately after the storm.

Scientists hypothesize that a warmer world will bring slower storms, so what we saw last year with Harvey - and now this year with Florence - could be a sign of those changes.

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Hurricane Helene is moving north, where it's expected to become a tropical storm Thursday.

The NHC notes that amount of rainfall would "produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding".

On Wednesday morning, Florence was extending hurricane-force winds outward up to 70 miles from its center, with tropical-storm-force winds up to 175 miles outward.

The shift in the projected track had areas that once thought they were out of range anxious.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said: "It truly is really about the whole size of this storm".

That system could develop into a tropical depression by Thursday night. Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.

Two big fuel pipelines stand in the hurricane's path, but analysts say they think the storm is unlikely to disrupt the flow of gasoline or other products. "It's called Mother Nature". "We will not be able to respond to you when the winds get so high".

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