Carolinas Brace for Extremely Dangerous Hurricane Florence

Carolinas Brace for Extremely Dangerous Hurricane Florence

Carolinas Brace for Extremely Dangerous Hurricane Florence

Florence, packing winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kph), was expected to grow even stronger before making landfall on Thursday, mostly likely in southeastern North Carolina near the SC border, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

He estimated about 1 million residents would flee the coast of his state, following earlier orders for the evacuation of more than 50,000 people from the southern-most Outer Banks barrier islands of North Carolina.

The storm's first effects were already apparent on barrier islands as risky rip currents hit beaches and seawater flowed over the road. As many as a million people could leave the coast, the governor said.

Quagliariello emphasized the impact of the hurricane, including tropical storm-force winds, could extend more than 100 miles from the storm's center.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office predicted "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages", cautioning that the deadliest risk would come from flooding.

"While it is too soon to determine the exact timing, location and magnitude of these impacts, interest at the coast and inland from SC into the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the progress of Florence", said a NOAA statement.

A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and this area of the ocean is seeing temperatures peak near 85 degrees (30 Celsius), hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote.

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With little wind shear to pull the storm apart, Florence's hurricane wind field is expected to expand over the coming days, increasing its storm surge and inland wind threats.

Hurricane Helene is a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, and it is located 375 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands, moving 16 mph to the west-northwest.

Storm surge could be as high as 6 to 12 feet from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout on North Carolina's southeast coast.

"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas [Wednesday night], and approach the coast of North Carolina or SC in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday, and move slowly near the coastline through Saturday", the NHC said.

At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other hurricanes, Helene and Isaac.

The frequency and intensity of rip currents will increase as Florence strengthens and especially in areas in the direct line of sight of the hurricane, which is along the Carolina, Virginia and Delmarva coasts.

As of the 5am update from the National Hurricane Center, Florence is still a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and gusts 160-170 miles per hour.

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North and SC and Virginia have already declared states of emergency, and officials have begun evacuations in North Carolina.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".

Several meteorologists said Florence could do what Hurricane Harvey did previous year over Texas, dumping days of rain, although not quite as bad.

The storm is now about 950 miles from the Carolina coast line, but moving in that direction at about 15 mph.

Hurricane Florence over the Atlantic Ocean. Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune urged people to secure their homes but said it was too early to know if evacuations will be ordered.

Aides say they are applying lessons from last year's spate of storms to an expected repeat season of destruction. She grew up on the shore, and says this will be only the second time she's evacuated.

Classes were canceled starting on Monday at the Wilmington campus of the University of North Carolina.

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