The United States’ southeast coast has started battening down the hatches as Hurricane Florence prepares to batter the area with winds of up to 110mph.

More than 5.25m people are set to be affected by the hurricane. A further 4.9m are likely to be hit by tropical storm conditions as Florence makes its way inland. The National Hurricane Center has predicted up to 30 inches of rain in places, with coastal waters expected to surge up to 13 feet.

According to the National Weather Service Charleston, Florence will make landfall this afternoon. Large parts of North Carolina and South Carolina will be in eye of the storm by tonight, with Virginia also set to see the effects.

Florence has slowed over the past 24 hours from a Category 4 to a Category 2 hurricane and could fall to Category 1 by the time it hits. Even then, it could still cause estimated damages of more than $1bn. So which areas are most at risk of death or destruction resulting from the freak weather?

These are some of the biggest cities that have been evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Florence:

Norfolk, Virginia

Population – 242,800

Evacuation status – Mandatory in parts

North and South Carolina are expected to be worst hit. However, parts of Virginia have also been evacuated as Florence approaches.

Those living in Virginia’s Zone A, along the coast and in low-lying areas, have been ordered to evacuate. Large parts of Norfolk, particularly around the Elizabeth River, fall in this area.

Chesapeake, Virginia

Population – 223,500

Evacuation status – Mandatory in parts

Parts of Chesapeake also fall in Zone A, particularly those areas surrounding the Elizabeth River. There is a high change of storm surge and flooding.

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Hampton, Virginia

Population – 137,400

Evacuation status – Mandatory in parts

Inner-city Hampton falls in Zone C. However, parts of the city that sit along the Hampton Roads harbour and Hampton River are at risk of flooding.

Charleston, South Carolina

Population – 134,900

Evacuation status – Mandatory

Sitting on the South Carolina coast, the state’s largest city has been boarded up, with widespread damage expected to occur.

While Governor Henry McMaster has cancelled the mandatory evacuation orders in the Beaufort, Colleton, and Jasper counties, Charleston remains on lockdown.

Wilmington, North Carolina

Population – 117,500

Evacuation status – Mandatory

Sitting right in the centre of where the hurricane is expected to make landfall, Wilmington is likely to be badly hit over the weekend.

A mandatory evacuation is in place in the city.

North Charleston, South Carolina

Population – 108,300

Evacuation status – Mandatory

North Charleston falls in the Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester countries, three of the areas that have been placed under a mandatory evacuation order in South Carolina. Governor has stressed that this is “mandatory, not voluntary”.

Up to one million people are expected to flee Charleston and its surrounding areas.

Jacksonville, North Carolina

Population – 70,100

Evacuation status – Mandatory

Onslow County is expected to be hit by hurricane force winds for up to 17 hours as Florence sits on the coast.

An evacuation order was put in place on Tuesday as Florence became as Category 4 hurricane. It was deemed that no shelters in the county would be able to withstand the conditions that Florence is expected to bring.

Where else will be hit?

It’s almost impossible to predict which areas will take the brunt of Florence’s assault. However, cities and towns across the three states are at risk of flooding and storm surges.

Goose Creek, Mrytle Beach, Hanahan, Georgetown, Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Conway and Loris are some of the cities at risk in South Carolina. North Carolina citizens have also been ordered to evacuate in New Bern, Havelock, Boiling Spring Lakes, Northwest and Southport.

As too have those in Zone A areas in Virginia. If you’re unsure whether you’re in an evacuation zone, this map should help. Blue areas have been ordered to evacuate.