Sky News:-A state of emergency has been declared in three US states as an “extremely dangerous” hurricane sweeps towards the East Coast, with residents stockpiling water and supplies amid warnings of 130mph winds.
If Hurricane Florence reaches the feared category four status, it would be the biggest hurricane in the US since Harvey in 2017.
States of emergency have been declared in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia in case Florence makes it to land from the Caribbean.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said: “All indications are that Florence will be an extremely dangerous category four hurricane while it moves over the western Atlantic toward the southeastern United States.
“There is an increasing risk of two life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge from the coast and freshwater flooding from a prolonged heavy rainfall inland.”
It is too early to know the exact path the storm will take but it could hit land on Thursday, the centre added.
Navy ships off Virginia’s coast are getting ready to sail out of the path of the powerful hurricane and one North Carolina university has cancelled classes.
People are already stockpiling plywood, bottled water and other supplies.
“Literally, they are filling buggies full of water, shopping carts full of water,” a Walmart manager told local media in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Hurricane Florence is around 500m north of the Leeward Islands, which includes four Commonwealth nations – Saint Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda and Antigua.
Henry McMaster, governor of South Carolina, warned the US should be braced for the hurricane to hit.
“Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of South Carolina and is going to go way inshore,” he said.
Even if a direct blow is avoided, Hurricane Florence slowing or stalling near the shore could cause devastating inland flooding, by unloading a foot or two of rain.