Watch NOAA hurricane hunters fly into the eye of Hurricane Florence
11 September, 2018, 23:23 | Author: Eric Barnett
Florence is now a Category 4 storm, packing 130 mile-per-hour winds, according to an 11 a.m. update from the U.S. Hurricane Center, and it may soon re-strengthen to near Category 5 levels.
Hurricane Florence intensified to a Category 4 hurricane on Monday as it barreled towards the US East Coast, where millions of people are bracing for potentially devastating winds and water later this week.
Hurricane Florence will approach the coast of North Carolina and SC on Thursday or Friday.
The storm was located about 950 miles (1,530 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, at 5 a.m. ET (0900 GMT), according to the NHC, which warned it would be "an extremely risky major hurricane" through Thursday night. The National Hurricane Centersaid it will weaken slightly before making landfall Thursday but will still be a major Category 3 storm. "With Florence strengthening into a hurricane this morning and continuing to move west, Florida families need to remain alert and remember that storms like this can change course and strengthen at any moment", said Gov. Rick Scott.
Florence's storm surge threatens more than 750,000 homes in the region North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, according to the property analytics firm CoreLogic.
Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation ahead of Hurricane Florence for all coastal counties in SC on Monday, including Beaufort, Colleton, and Jasper counties.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster evoked the memory of 1989's Hurricane Hugo, which killed 27 people in the state, in urging people to obey his evacuation order.
"Inland flooding will be a major threat and something people far from the landfall location should be concerned about", CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said. It is expected to intensify to near Category 5 status as it slows over very warm ocean water near North and SC. The rain could lead to life-threatening flash flooding. "We've weathered tough hurricanes before, and we will do it again".
"The time to hope Hurricane Florence away is gone". That 1996 storm caused some of the worst damage in North Carolina history.
President Donald Trump on Monday night declared an emergency in North Carolina. And of course, inland flooding from heavy rain. Current estimates are as high as 10-to-20 feet of surge in coastal North Carolina (west of the Outer Banks).
Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said: "This storm is going to be a direct hit on our coast".
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said an estimated 1 million people would be fleeing his state's coast, with eastbound Interstate 26 heading into Charleston and US 501 heading into Myrtle Beach reversed to ease the exodus.
The hurricane is generating swells that are already affecting Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast.
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Florence set to become major hurricane, aims at US Southeast
Either way, it appears the storm will be close enough to bring damaging winds and torrential rainfall across a large region. The National Weather Center warned of unsafe rip currents in popular tourist areas like Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks.
USA stocks to watch as Hurricane Florence approaches
Forecasters cautioned, though, Florence could impact anywhere from northern Florida to north of the Washington, D.C., area. Hurricane Isaac - which late Sunday became the fifth hurricane of the season - is heading west towards the Caribbean.