The Latest: Airlines cancel flights ahead of Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Florence (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Airlines are beginning to cancel flights ahead of Hurricane Florence making landfall later this week.

And Charleston International Airport in South Carolina is tweeting that it expects runways to close by midnight Wednesday as it monitors Hurricane Florence.

Southwest Airlines’ website showed that it had canceled at least a half-dozen flights to and from Charleston on Tuesday. The airline didn’t immediately comment.

The tracking service FlightAware.com showed that by late Tuesday afternoon, American had canceled more than 50 American Eagle regional flights both Wednesday and Thursday. It wasn’t clear if all were due to Florence, however.

American said the storm was responsible for cancellations to and from the North Carolina cities of Fayetteville, Greenville, Jacksonville, New Bern and Wilmington.

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6:45 p.m.

North Carolina is evacuating prisoners and staff from low- and medium-security prisons that lie in the path of Hurricane Florence over concerns they won’t be able to withstand the storm.

Department of corrections spokesman Jerry Higgins on Tuesday confirmed “several hundred” prisoners from minimum- and medium-custody facilities are being transferred to other facilities across the state. The move started Monday and will continue into the week.

Higgins says the department of corrections can’t say exactly which facilities are being evacuated. They won’t disclose where or exactly how many prisoners are being moved until they have been relocated.

North Carolina has maximum-security prisons in the path of Hurricane Florence, but those facilities are not being evacuated. Higgins says those structures are more capable of withstanding the storm than minimum- and medium-custody facilities.

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6:30 p.m.

There are two big fuel pipelines in the path of Hurricane Florence, but analysts think the storm is unlikely to disrupt the flow of gasoline or other products.

Analysts for S&P Global Platts say it’s possible, “though less likely,” that the Colonial and Plantation pipelines could be hurt by power outages or damage to pump stations.

The pipelines carry fuels from the Gulf Coast to much of the eastern U.S. They run well inland through South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, and they are underground.

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

But it is highly unlikely to be anything like Hurricane Harvey, which last year hit Houston, the heart of the U.S. energy industry. Flooding closed down many refineries along the Texas and Louisiana coasts, causing a temporary spike in gasoline prices.

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6:30 p.m.

The commander of Camp Lejeune and all Marine installations on the East Coast says there is no mandatory evacuation due to the approaching hurricane.

Brigadier General Julian D. Alford said in a message Tuesday that those who remain on the bases will have food, water and protection from the storm.

Spokesman Nat Fahy says the base is the safest place for residents to be if they haven’t already evacuated.

Fahy says shelters on the base are expected to open early Wednesday, and there will be a full complement of resources for those sheltering in place.

Of the roughly 40,000 active duty troops, about three-quarters live off the base. Thousands of non-essential forces have evacuated with their families.

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6:30 p.m.

People aren’t the only ones evacuating to get out of the path of Hurricane Florence.

Eight dogs and 18 cats from a shelter in Norfolk, Virginia, have been brought to Washington, D.C., to make room for pets expected to be displaced by the hurricane.

The animals arrived Tuesday afternoon at one of two D.C. shelters run by the Humane Rescue Alliance. The dogs and cats are expected to be available for adoption within the next few days. They include tabby cats, hound mixes and Chihuahua mixes.

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6:10 p.m.

Kentucky and West Virginia are offering discounted rates on lodging at their state parks for people seeking shelter from Hurricane Florence.

The Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet said the discounted nightly rate for lodge rooms is $49.95 for residents of any East Coast state seeking shelter from the hurricane. One-bedroom cottages are $69.95, and two bedrooms are $79.95. The rates are good until Sept. 30.

In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice said state parks will offer a 55 percent discount on rooms, cabins and campsites through Tuesday.

West Virginia’s Agriculture Department also said it will waive entry requirements for animals taken to West Virginia because of the hurricane. Also, the State Fair of West Virginia is offering temporary shelter for up to 100 horses.

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5:10 p.m.

Forecasters have issued a hurricane warning for parts of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence barrels toward land.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Tuesday that a warning had been issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from north of the North Carolina-Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, Virginia, and for the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Florence was centered 785 miles (1,260 kms) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving west-northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).

It is a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph). It is expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, with winds of 157 mph (253 kph) or higher.

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4:40 p.m.

Forecasters at the University of Michigan predict that 2.4 million people will lose power from Hurricane Florence and some outages could be prolonged.

That’s about one-fourth the number who suffered outages from Hurricane Sandy, which hit a more populated area around New Jersey in 2012.

Seth Guikema is an associate professor of engineering at Michigan. He says outages could be more widespread if Florence veers north or stalls, leading to flooding.

The estimate is based on the National Hurricane Center’s forecast for Florence’s path and wind speeds.

Duke Energy spokeswoman Grace Rountree says the utility doesn’t forecast outages, but is “anticipating significant widespread outages from a storm of this magnitude.”

She says the company is bringing in up to 2,000 workers from Florida and the Midwest to augment its 4,600 workers in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Duke has 4 million customers in the Carolinas.

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4:40 p.m.

Officials are advising South Carolina residents to get their well water tested for bacteria after Hurricane Florence hits.

The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service said in a news release Tuesday that if the wells are submerged in water even temporarily, the water won’t be usable to drink, cook or brush teeth with until it is tested and found suitable.

Clemson says the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control can test private drinking well water for bacterial contamination.

Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered residents along much of South Carolina’s coast to evacuate as the powerful storm approaches the Carolinas’ coastline.

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4:40 p.m.

North Carolina officials say they are suspending ferry service from one of the Outer Banks islands beginning Wednesday.

A news release from the Ferry Division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation said Tuesday that service from Ocracoke Island will end with a 9:30 a.m. run to Swan Quarter on the mainland.

Ocracoke is at the southern end of the state’s Outer Banks, and is accessible only by ferry.

Ferry officials say that as of Tuesday afternoon, they had transported 1,582 people evacuating the islands.

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4:40 p.m.

As the Carolinas brace for the impact of extremely dangerous Florence toward the end of the week, other states are sending resources.

Southern California firefighting teams specializing in urban-search and swift-water rescue, and a search-and-rescue team from Tennessee are being deployed to Virginia ahead of Florence’s arrival.

Louisiana is sending nearly 100 emergency personnel to the Carolinas. The Louisiana fire marshal’s office is sending a water-rescue team and an urban search-and-rescue team to South Carolina, along with other emergency workers.

More than three dozen members of a Nebraska search-and-rescue team left Tuesday morning for Raleigh, North Carolina. The deployed members include two K-9 search units.

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4:15 p.m.

Officials in West Virginia towns inundated by a series of thunderstorms two years ago are monitoring the track of Hurricane Florence.

National Weather Service guidance says the currently projected scenario from Florence “could result in catastrophic flooding rainfall” across the mountains of western North Carolina, western Virginia, and eastern West Virginia late this week.

The June 2016 storms pelted a wide swath of West Virginia. Nine inches (23 centimeters) of rain fell in 36 hours in some areas, leaving 23 dead statewide and destroying thousands of homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Fifteen people died in Greenbrier County alone in 2016. The communities of Rainelle and White Sulphur Springs saw significant property damage, including at the posh Greenbrier resort.

Rainelle Police Chief J.P. Stevens said people there are rightfully wary of Florence.

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3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the safety of the American people is his “absolute highest priority” as Hurricane Florence takes aim at portions of the East Coast.

Trump was being briefed by the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Oval Office on Tuesday.

He says the federal government is ready to respond to the Category 4 storm.

FEMA administrator Brock Long is warning that the hurricane will be a “devastating event” and urging Americans to evacuate if they’ve been asked to leave their homes. He says electric power could be out for weeks.

Trump has declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina and Virginia, and canceled campaign events Thursday and Friday in anticipation of the storm.

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3:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency in Virginia as Hurricane Florence approaches.

Trump announced the action Tuesday. It comes after he approved a similar declaration for North and South Carolina, which are currently in the bull’s-eye of the powerful Category 4 storm. The action frees up federal funds and resources.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center forecasts as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain, if not more, for parts of North Carolina. Rain could reach as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) elsewhere in North Carolina, Virginia, parts of Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, but no federal emergency has been declared in the nation’s capital.

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3:10 p.m.

Gas supplies are expected to tighten in the Carolinas as a powerful hurricane heads toward the Atlantic coast.

AAA Carolinas spokeswoman Tiffany Wright says some gas stations in North and South Carolina are running short on fuel as Hurricane Florence approaches the coast. Wright says supplies are often stretched in the run-up to a storm, as many people fill up out of fear stations will run out.

Wright says prices might go up in some places but that any spike shouldn’t last long. Price gouging laws have gone into effect in North and South Carolina, and residents are urged to report suspected instances to attorneys general in both states.

The storm could cause fuel deliveries to be halted temporarily. But unlike last year’s Hurricane Harvey, Wright says crude processing shouldn’t be effected because no refineries are in Florence’s path.

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3:40 p.m.

Recruits are returning to the Marine Corps’ largest East Coast training installation after South Carolina’s governor lifted an evacuation order ahead of Hurricane Florence.

Marines currently in training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island had begun departing the installation on Tuesday for another base in Albany, Georgia.

But McMaster lifted the evacuation for Beaufort County where the island is located and other counties after noting that the powerful hurricane’s projected path has shifted to the north.

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2:30 p.m.

Some residents in the Outer Banks have decided to ignore a mandatory evacuation order.

Liz Browning Fox in the village of Buxton is one of them. The 65-year-old Fox says her 88-year-old mother has refused to evacuate her house next door so she’s going to stay with her.

She says her brother who lives nearby is also going to stay.

Fox says she feels safe in her home, but realizes that if she and her mother get in trouble during the storm, no first-responders are going to arrive to help them. She says anyone who plans to stay “needs to be pretty well set up.”

The longtime resident is a volunteer for the community radio station, Radio Hatteras. She says she will help broadcast emergency messages during the storm.

Despite her resolve to stay, Fox admits she woke up in the pre-dawn hours asking herself why she had decided to stay.

She says what she most fears are the tornadoes that often develop along with hurricanes. Those, she says, “can tear through anything.”

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2 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is calling Hurricane Florence a “monster” that residents should not try to ride out in their homes.

At a news conference Tuesday, Cooper had a stern warning for coastal residents who have stayed in their homes during previous hurricanes including Fran in 1996, Floyd in 1999 and Matthew in 2016: This one is different.

Cooper told residents not to “bet your life on riding out a monster.”

To reinforce this, Cooper announced he had issued what he called the first-of-its-kind mandatory evacuation order for North Carolina’s fragile barrier islands from one end of the coast to the other. Typically local governments in North Carolina make the call on evacuations. Some, including those at the Outer Banks, have already issued orders for the island residents to leave.

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2 p.m.

Hurricane Florence is getting bigger as it targets the East Coast.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the hurricane stretched 340 miles (547 kilometers) across as of Tuesday afternoon. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 60 miles (95 kilometers) from the center. Tropical storm-force winds reach up to 170 miles (280 kilometers) from the eye.

By 2 p.m. Tuesday, Florence had maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (215 kph). It was centered about 845 miles (1,360 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at 17 mph (28 kph). It will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas, then approach the coast of South Carolina or North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Helene has turned away from land as it moves over cooler ocean waters, and Tropical Storm Isaac is approaching the Caribbean.

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1:55 p.m.

Authorities in Dominica are opening shelters and warning they will turn off water and power as a precautionary measure as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches the eastern Caribbean.

Hurricane watches were issued Tuesday for Dominica and the nearby French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. A tropical storm watch was issued for Antigua and Montserrat.

The National Hurricane Center said Isaac will likely be a strong tropical storm when it reaches the eastern Caribbean early Thursday. It is expected to drop 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of rain with up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) in isolated areas.

Isaac is located 775 miles (1,250 kilometers) east of the Lesser Antilles with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph). It was moving west at 16 mph (26 kph).

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1:55 p.m.

Recruits are being evacuated from the Marine Corps’ largest training installation on the East Coast as Powerful Hurricane Florence approaches the Carolinas.

Brig. Gen. James Glynn issued the order Tuesday for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina. Glynn is commanding general of the depot.

The Corps says Marines currently in training will be sent to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia, where they’ll continue training until the storm has dissipated and it’s safe to return to Parris Island.

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1:30 p.m.

North Carolina’s governor has ordered a mandatory evacuation for the state’s barrier islands as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that he had issued a first-of-its-kind state evacuation to help prompt residents of the barrier islands, including the Outer Banks, to leave.

Cooper said local governments are typically responsible for issuing evacuation orders in North Carolina, and some localities have already issued orders to evacuate.

But Cooper said he believed Florence will be “so fierce” that the state needs to provide an “added incentive” for people to leave.

Governors in South Carolina and Virginia have also issued mandatory evacuation orders ahead of the storm.

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1:30 p.m.

Meteorologists say they are expecting rainfall from Hurricane Florence to measure in feet, not inches.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center forecasts as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain, if not more, for parts of North Carolina. Rain could reach as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) elsewhere in North Carolina, Virginia, parts of Maryland and Washington, D.C.

But one trusted computer model, the European simulation, is predicting more than 45 inches (114 centimeters) of rain in parts of North Carolina, such as New Hanover County, with meteorologists comparing the rainfall to last year’s Hurricane Harvey.

A year ago people would have laughed off a forecast of 45 inches of rain, but the European model was accurate in predicting 60 inches (152 centimeters) of rain for Harvey.

University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy says it is “looking likely” that Florence will unleash feet (meters), not inches (centimeters) of rain.

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12:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the federal government is “absolutely, totally prepared” for Hurricane Florence as it heads toward the Eastern Seaboard.

The president briefed reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Tuesday.

Trump has declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina ahead of the Category 4 hurricane, which frees up help from federal agencies.

He has also canceled campaign events Thursday and Friday in anticipation of the storm.

The president was meeting with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency later Tuesday.

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12:50 p.m.

Some areas in Florence’s path, particularly northern Virginia, have seen more rainfall than normal this summer, and National Weather Service officials say that means flooding might begin more quickly.

Data from the weather service show some parts of northern Virginia have seen 10 inches (25 centimeters) or more of precipitation above average over the past 90 days.

Fred Turck is part of the Virginia’s Department of Forestry’s fire and emergency response division. He says the department is concerned about what could be excessive timber damage. He says when soil is saturated, less wind than normally would be needed can topple a tree because the roots don’t hold as well.

Turck says tree damage will result in short-term impacts like power outages, blocked roads and damaged structures but could also impact the long-term health of forests and lead to wildfire problem.

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12:30 p.m.

The mayor of Washington, D.C., has declared a state of emergency as the nation’s capital prepares for heavy rains, flooding and power outages related to Hurricane Florence.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the move Tuesday morning, describing it as a necessary step to “ensure we have the resources and support” to handle several days of torrential rain.

Several public events and street festivals scheduled for this weekend have been canceled, and Bowser advised Washington residents to stock up on groceries and batteries and make sure their prescriptions are filled.

City officials say the primary dangers to residents will come from flash flooding and power lines downed by falling tree branches.

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12:15 p.m.

Some Virginians who have been ordered to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence may have to wait a few days before they can get into a free shelter.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesman Jeff Caldwell said local governments are responsible for opening up shelters for evacuees and some won’t open until Wednesday or Thursday.

Gov. Ralph Northam ordered a mandatory evacuation for some residents of low-lying coastal areas that went into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The order affects 245,000 residents in the Hampton Roads area, the Eastern Shore and other coastal areas.

Caldwell said the state is considering opening its own shelters later this week if the local shelters fill to capacity.

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12:15 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is saying his state is “in the bull’s-eye” of Hurricane Florence. The very center of that bull’s-eye may be Camp Lejeune. Authorities on the sprawling Marine Corps training base are in emergency mode, staging equipment and urging families on the base to build survival kits with the food and equipment needed to sustain themselves for 72 hours.

Mandatory coastal evacuations were in effect for civilians in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, but the military base posted on Facebook that different chains-of-command would decide whether to release non-essential personnel. Some military families are venting fears they won’t be able to evacuate in time.

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12:15 p.m.

Officials say they’re taking steps to ensure safety at nuclear power plants in South Carolina as a Category 4 hurricane nears the state.

Ryan Mosier of Duke Energy told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the power company was closely monitoring Hurricane Florence and ensuring that emergency equipment is in working order.

Duke operates three nuclear stations in South Carolina, though none are along the coast. SCANA operates two reactors at a site just north of Columbia.

Mosier says each of Duke’s sites has emergency generators for backup power, as well as pumps and other redundant systems and supplies of food and water for employees.

If forecasters predict any site will experience sustained winds of 73 mph (117 kph) or more, Mosier says operators will begin to shut down units at least two hours prior to impact.

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11:55 a.m.

Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas is preparing for a possible tropical storm system in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

The tropical system is one of five that have formed in the Atlantic Ocean, including hurricanes Florence and Helene, Tropical Storm Isaac and an as-yet unnamed system far off the East Coast. Abbott says Texas is keeping an eye on the system in the Gulf.

The National Hurricane Center says that system could become a tropical depression by Thursday or Friday, and that residents along both the Texas and Louisiana coasts should monitor the storm.

Florence is the most powerful and dangerous of all the weather systems. The Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph (215 kph) winds was barreling toward the coasts of North and South Carolina and has been forecast to hit land as an extremely large, powerful and dangerous storm. Some coastal residents have been ordered to evacuate.

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11:30 a.m.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says he has lifted mandatory evacuation orders in three counties along the state’s southern coast. McMaster made the announcement Tuesday as forecasters continued to show Hurricane Florence’s projected tract moving farther northward. McMaster also said lane reversals would begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday on Interstate 26, an hour earlier than had been scheduled, allowing all lanes of the interstate to move westward, away from the coast.

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10:55 a.m.

Forecasters say Florence will arrive on land as an extremely dangerous major hurricane by the end of the week.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Florence has maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (215 kph). By 11 a.m. Tuesday, Florence was centered about 905 miles (1,455 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at 16 mph (25 kph). Its center will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, then approach the coast of South Carolina or North Carolina.

Two other storms are spinning in the Atlantic as the 2018 hurricane season peaks: Tropical Storm Isaac is approaching the Caribbean, while Hurricane Helene is no threat to land over waters. As Isaac approaches the Caribbean, hurricane watches are in effect for Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica, while a tropical storm watch was issued for Antigua and Montserrat.

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10:50 a.m.

The Navy has authorized an emergency evacuation order ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence.

Rear Adm. Charles Rock is commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. He said in a statement Tuesday that the safety of personnel and families is his top priority now.

The order follows Virginia’s evacuation order and remains in effect until Sept. 16. So far, state officials’ tiered system only requires residents of the most flood-prone areas, known as “Zone A,” to leave their homes.

The Navy’s order applies to Navy and civilian personnel, dependents of active-duty service members and reservists on active duty living in Hampton Roads and Zone A.

The Navy says Region Mid-Atlantic evacuees are authorized to proceed within 500 miles (805 kilometers) of the designated remote safe haven area of Asheville, North Carolina. Others should head to the remote safe haven area designated by their parent chain of command.

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10:50 a.m.

The Virginia Department of Corrections has evacuated inmates from a coastal prison as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast.

The department said in a statement Tuesday that the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake was evacuated Monday night after Gov. Ralph Northam issued a mandatory evacuation order for some of the state’s lowest-lying coastal areas. The medium-security facility provides treatment programs for substance-abusing offenders.

The department also says all visitation statewide is canceled for Saturday and Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is expected to approach the coast of North or South Carolina on Thursday, but Virginia is also under a state of emergency. Officials say the state is expecting a coastal storm surge, high wind, inland flooding and widespread power outages.

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10:50 a.m.

The Democrat running to be South Carolina’s next governor has been called up for guard duty as the state prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Florence.

Campaign spokesman Brad Warthen tells The Associated Press that James Smith has been activated as part of his service as a major in the South Carolina Army National Guard.

Warthen didn’t know specifically where Smith had been stationed, but the Army says guardsmen typically help when traffic patterns are altered for evacuations.

Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered the evacuation of South Carolina’s coastline. State troopers are clearing eastbound lanes of Interstate 26 so that they could be reversed later Tuesday.

Smith is challenging McMaster in this fall’s election. On Monday, both candidates suspended their campaigns as the state gets ready for the storm.

The Army says the South Carolina National Guard has mobilized about 1,600 soldiers and airmen to prepare for Hurricane Florence.

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10:45 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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