Authorities in the U.S. state of Florida have urged more than a million coastal residents to evacuate before Hurricane Frances is expected to strike on Friday. The storm with winds of 230 kilometers an hour struck the Bahamas on Thursday. Hurricane Frances is the second hurricane to strike Florida in less than a month. Forecasters say Hurricane Frances is a huge storm with hurricane force winds extending outward 130 kilometers. The storm struck the Bahamas on Thursday ripping roofs off of houses and causing heavy flooding across the island chain. In Florida, authorities urged residents living along a 500-kilometer stretch of coastline from Miami to north of Daytona Beach to evacuate. Florida Governor Jeb Bush says time is running out for those living close to the Atlantic Ocean, reports VOANews. "The storm will have significant force to it," he said. "People need to begin the implementation to move. People do not have to go 200 miles, they do not have to go 50 miles. You can go in your own community to one of the shelters that have been well announced and well publicized, or go with a friend or a neighbor. But it is important to act now." Today, millions of residents along Florida's heavily developed east coast are facing a similar situation as hurricane Frances - a major Category 4 storm, more than twice the size of Charley - pounds the Bahamas and draws ever closer to an expected Florida landfall on Saturday. Unlike expectations for Charley, hurricane experts this time are stressing that predictions about the storm's possible movements are rough approximations. They advise residents to ignore the single line on National Hurricane Center graphics showing the forecaster's best estimate of where the most destructive core of the storm may go. Instead, they tell residents to pay attention to the much wider "cone" of potential impact that can stretch out hundreds of miles. Yet many hurricane experts stress that death and destruction are not inevitable consequences of a hurricane. Lives and property can be effectively protected with a few basic preparations. But the trick, they say, is persuading those potentially in the path to take the necessary precautions, informs the Christian Science Monitor. According to Reuters, Some 2.5 million people were urged to leave their homes and Florida residents jammed the roads on Thursday as powerful hurricane Frances roared toward the crowded southeast U.S. coast with enough force to cause major harm. Frances lashed the southeastern Bahamas with 140 mph winds on Thursday and was expected to slam into the capital Nassau on Friday. It threatens to deliver a huge blow to Florida by Saturday morning, just three weeks after Hurricane Charley hit the state's west coast. A total of 2.5 million people were being told to evacuate barrier islands, low-lying coastal areas and mobile homes in the path of the storm, Craig Fugate, director of the state's Division of Emergency Management, told reporters. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated 14.6 million Floridians live in the storm warning area. Highway tolls were suspended and on the Beeline Expressway in central Florida, lanes were reversed to speed the long lines of traffic fleeing the coast. Traffic clogged major arteries in parts of the state.
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