Hurricane Florence puts 10M in crosshairs along East Coast; Trump urges 'protection of life'
President Trump on Wednesday said that as Hurricane Florence makes its way toward the U.S., "protection of life is the absolute highest priority."
The hurricane, according to the president, will be "one of the biggest to ever hit the East Coast, one of the biggest to ever hit our country."
TRACK HURRICANE FLORENCE'S PATH HERE
More than 10 million people were under storm watches and warnings on Wednesday as Hurricane Florence — described as “the storm of a lifetime” — continued to drive its way to the East Coast.
Hours after being downgraded to a Category 3 storm, Florence was located 385 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina and moving at 120 mph, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its 5 p.m. advisory.
North and South Carolina, along with Virginia, Maryland and Georgia, remain under states of emergency ahead of the “Mike Tyson punch” of a storm’s expected landfall in the U.S. later this week.
HURRICANE FLORENCE PROMPTS WAFFLE HOUSE TO ACTIVATE STORM CENTER
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Jeff Byard warned that despite its slight weakening, Florence will still be an extremely dangerous hurricane.
Paper claims President Trump is playing down humans' role in increasing extreme weather risks; reaction and analysis on 'The Five.'Video
The Washington Post blames Trump for devastating hurricanes
“Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck,” Byard asked.
An estimated 5.25 million people remained under hurricane watches and warnings on We
While Florence was slightly reduced in strength earlier from 140 mph winds, meteorologists expect the hurricane to jump back to a Category 4 by Thursday morning. Forecasters predict the storm will make landfall Thursday night or sometime on Friday.
In addition to the hurricane-strength winds blowing ashore Friday, Florence has the potential to bring a storm surge upwards of 6 feet in parts of the coastline including up to 13 feet from Cape Fear north to Cape Lookout.
AHEAD OF HURRICANE FLORENCE, CAROLINIANS IGNORE CALLS TO EVACUATE FOR FINANCIAL, EMPLOYMENT REASONS
The hurricane could also produce heavy and excessive rainfall — up to 40 inches in isolated areas in the Carolinas and anywhere between 6 to 12 inches elsewhere in the Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic region.
NASA has posted a stunning video of Hurricane Florence from the International space station as it continues to barrel towards the Carolinas.
It will also pass directly over two nuclear power plants — the Brunswick Nuclear Plant, which is located 30 miles south of Wilmington, as well as the Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill, about 23 miles from Raleigh.
The National Weather Service said Hurricane Florence will likely be “the storm of a lifetime” for portions of the Carolina coast.
Fox News' Lucia Suarez Sang and The Associated Press contributed to this report.