"We're not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina," says Gov. Henry McMaster, who has ordered the mandatory evacuation of the state's entire coastline, effective noon Tuesday, as Hurricane Florence closes in. McMaster says lanes on four main roads leading from the coast will be reversed and schools and state offices in the eastern half of the state will be closed, the State reports. The order will affect an estimated 1 million people and another 245,000 are under a mandatory evacuation order in low-lying areas of coastal Virginia, the Guardian reports. Florence is expected to strengthen to a Category 5 hurricane Tuesday before hitting the Carolinas with terrifying force Thursday.
Mandatory evacuation orders are also in place for parts of North Carolina, where Gov. Roy Cooper has warned of a triple threat from "ocean surge along our coast, strong winds, and inland flooding from heavy rain," the News & Observer reports. Florence is expected to be the strongest hurricane to hit the Carolinas since Hazel in 1954, though forecasters say it could behave more like 2017's Harvey, which stalled over Texas, dumping huge amounts of rain, the AP reports. "I think this is very Harvey-esque," says hurricane expert Brian McNoldy. "Normally, a landfalling tropical cyclone just keeps on going inland, gradually dissipating and raining itself out. But on rare occasions, the steering patterns can line up such that a storm slips into a dead zone between troughs and ridges."