Task Force 1 establishes base camp in advance of Hurricane Florence

The storm's eye was about 145 miles southeast of Wilmington as of 11 a.m., the briefing said. Volvo is coordinating with parts suppliers so it will be ready to resume production, according to Datz, who said he wasn't sure how long the plant would be down.

LATER NEXT WEEK: The remnants of Hurricane Florence could bring some heavy rain to the D.C. region by next week.

As much as a couple of inches of rain are possible across Southern Maryland, as far north as Route 50, National Weather Service meteorologists said. "We're about to be in the thick of it".

Hurricane-force winds now extend up to 80 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 195 miles from the center of the storm.

Authorities reversed the flow of traffic on the eastbound lanes of many highways to help residents evacuate and move inland more quickly, and that will continue in some areas for a while Thursday.

The US Army Corps of Engineers said it is monitoring two North Carolina dams - in Wake Forest and Cary - as well as three additional ones in Virginia. "It's something we haven't seen. ever".

There have been warnings that any flooding of hog manure pits, coal ash dumps and other industrial sites could have a lasting effect on communities, with tainted water possibly washing into homes and drinking supplies.

"You put your life at risk by staying", Cooper said. "It will probably fall faster than it can leave".

Why Hurricane Florence Is So Dangerous
For a swath of the North Carolina shore from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, the storm surge could range from 9-13 feet, the NHC said. Usually storms come to the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic from the south - and those usually curve safely out to sea.

Hurricane Helene is moving north, where it's expected to become a tropical storm on Thursday. Florence's size is "chilling, even from space" As he posted awe-inspiring shots of Hurricane Florence, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency wrote that staring down "the gaping eye of a category 4 hurricane" is "chilling, even from space".

That said, the storm is still expected to stall once it hits the Wilmington coast, with weather officials early Thursday raising the expected total rainfall for Wilmington to 35 inches - weather officials had predicted 30 inches for Wilmington in briefings released Wednesday. From southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC - expect rainfall amounts of 20 to 30 inches, isolated 40 inches.

As well as these watches and warnings, coastal flooding can be expected as a result of onshore winds as well as large waves.

And the storm is still expected to bring catastrophic winds, rain, storm surges and flooding, the National Hurricane Center briefing said.

The main area of life-threatening swells and rip current conditions generated by Isaac are now affecting portions of the Lesser Antilles.

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

And the storm surge, which could be as much as 12 feet in some areas, will be on top of sea level rise from climate change. On Thursday morning, South 17th Street, usually teeming with commuter traffic by 6:30 a.m., was almost devoid of cars. Regardless of whether a system forms, they say heavy rain and gusty winds are likely along the Texas and Louisiana coast later this week.

Soren Rundquist, Environmental Working Group's director of spatial analysis, said if the rainfall projections hold up, the flood waters will simply take what was sprayed on the fields with them, along with what spills out of the pits.

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