Hurricane Florence, Category 4 storm

Roman Schwartz
September 12, 2018

President Donald Trump - who was criticised for his response to the deadly Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago -has said the White House is "absolutely, totally prepared" to provide aid once Florence hits, but there are concerns the states in its path are ill-prepared for what is to come.

Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm's arrival, allowing the state to muster personnel and equipment needed to deal with possible flooding and wind damage.

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper described the storm as "a monster". For example, the seas off of Wilmington, North Carolina have risen 7.5 inches since 1935, according to NOAA.

"It is an extremely unsafe, life-threatening, historic hurricane".

Hurricane Florence is barreling toward the southeastern United States because of the so-called "atmospheric brick wall", the high-pressure system that's guiding it there, forecasters report.

The latest National Weather Service (NWS) update on Tuesday morning says Florence is expected to "continue a slow strengthening trend for the next day or so".

Florence is a category 4 hurricane with winds at 130 miles per hour as of 8 a.m. It's gaining strength and could even be upgraded to Category 5 before it makes landfall early Friday, according to forecasts.

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US President Donald Trump signed declarations of emergency on Tuesday for both North Carolina and SC, freeing up federal money and resources for storm response.

But a weather formation known as a high-pressure ridge is parked over the U.S. East coast, preventing Florence from doing the normal turn, said University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy. To speed evacuations, officials in SC reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so that all major roads led away from the coast.

Rainfall could be up to 20in (50cm) in some areas.

The US Navy is sending 30 ships stationed in Virginia out to sea. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. The map below shows the greatest impacts in North Carolina and along the eastern coastline, as far south as Charleston and as far north as New Jersey.

Southwest Airlines said travelers booked to fly from six cities from Baltimore to SC can rebook their flights within 14 days of their original dates with no additional cost.

US President Donald Trump said the "storm looks very bad" and urged people to take precautions. Schools in 26 of the state's 46 counties were ordered closed from Tuesday.

Meanwhile, there are two other storms in the vicinity - Isaac and Olivia have become tropical storms, with the former heading for the Caribbean and the latter set to hit Hawaii early on Wednesday. Ten to 15in (25 to 38 cm) of rain is forecast for the Big Island.

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