Florence strengthens to Category 4, takes aim at Carolinas

Cristina Cross
September 14, 2018

Shortly before 2 p.m., Alert Carolina released a statement noting that until further notice, classes and operations would run as scheduled at the University.

Hurricane Helene, heading north in the Atlantic, isn't expected to cause the US any issues, the NHC said. The governors of both states declared states of emergency.

Evacuation orders for low-lying areas were issued Monday and continued Tuesday.

Gov. Henry McMaster has issued an evacuation order for SC as the area prepares for Hurricane Florence's possible landfall. The Center projects wind speed will continue to increase, potentially elevating Florence to a Category 5.

There is a mandatory medical evacuation in place for hospitals, said Rep. Tim McGinnis in a Facebook post.

Florence is expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday (Sept. 13 or 14), likely as a Category 3 hurricane, meaning it will have winds blowing at a minimum of 111 miles per hour (178 km/h), Samson said.

Astronaut Ricky Arnold, who is aboard the ISS, also snapped a picture of the storm, writing that the ISS crew is "thinking of those who will be affected" by its devastation. "We've just been overwhelmed with requests by state agencies and everybody else", he said. Having grown up in storm-prone Florida, LaRoche said she's careful not to underestimate any hurricane.

Its center will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday.

"Once Florence moves inland, it is expected to weaken and move very slowly, resulting in a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event along and north of the track", he said.

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

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By noon EDT on Monday, Florence had top sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.

However, since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, USA power plants have installed more safety equipment, such as waterproofing, portable pumps and generators, Duke Energy spokeswoman Mary Kathryn Green told Reuters. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months.

The vehicle park has been full for three days at the Ace Hardware store in coastal Calabash, North Carolina, where manager Tom Roberts said he sold 150 gas cans in two hours Monday, along with generators, plywood, rope, manual can openers, sand bags and a plethora of other items.

Up to 1.7 million people are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and coastal residents were frantically boarding up homes and businesses and hitting the road on Wednesday as the storm approached.

"This is a huge storm", said Robert Woodward, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, predicting 15 to 20 inches (38 to 50 centimetres) of rain.

"Action today can avoid losses due to Florence", he said.

Moving into next week, Florence is expected to move slowly westward and remnants could be pulled toward southern Canada and northern New England, but it's still early and the storm could change track or fizzle out before then.

Isaac, meanwhile, is a Category 1 hurricane with 75 miles per hour winds and is moving west at 14 miles per hour.

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

Some strengthening is expected during the next 36 hours, and Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday.

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