Hurricane Florence prompts emergency declaration for Chatham, rest of Georgia

A North Carolina hog farm and its waste lagoon following Hurricane Floyd in 1999

Nathan Deal (R) on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for the entire state as Hurricane Florence takes aim at the southeast.

Florence catapulted from a Category 2 to a Category 4 hurricane in just a few hours.

A storm surge watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC, and for north of Duck, NC, to the North Carolina/Virginia border. Highs today in the 80s and lows in the 70s.

The latest projections of Florence, now a Category 4 storm, show it shifting south putting Georgia in its possible path. Florence will slow down by late Thursday into Friday.

Hurricane Florence has gotten a little bit weaker but it remains a very large and risky storm. Even though the track has shifted a bit to the south, which could bring us a little less rain, we will still have the possibility for major impacts.

"The number one problem, it gets to the coast and stalls". This will continue to bring large amounts of rain. Isolated tornadoes are also not out of the question. You never know. But we know.

Cooper asked residents to plan now and make sure they have their medication and shelter for their pets. We will see conditions deteriorating as the day progresses on Thursday.

"Just because we have a landfall to your south, that doesn't mean you're out of the woods, because the winds are huge around this system", NHC Director Ken Graham said, pointing out the wide risk of flooding. By comparison, Washington, D.C., gets an average of 40 inches of rain per year.

Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird.

Winds will ramp up on Thursday, stay strong through Friday, then slowly relax through the weekend. "This is more about rainfall", Panovich said.

The National Weather Service said Hurricane Florence "will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast".

Gargantuan waves towering up to 83 feet were crashing within Hurricane Florence's sprawling reach early Wednesday as the Category 4 monster continued its ominous advance on the East Coast, experts said.

Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less risky, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion. The storm, which is moving northwest at 17 mph, has sustained winds of 110 mph extending 80 miles from its center, the weather service said.

Helene is moving toward the north-northwest near 14 miles per hour, and a turn toward the north is expected later today.

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