Hurricane Florence: US southeast braces for direct hit from 'monster' storm

Jan Cross
September 12, 2018

Hurricane Florence is rapidly intensifying and could strike a direct and unsafe blow anywhere from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic region later this week, possibly as a fearsome category 4, forecasters said.

Effects from the hurricane will occur outside that cone, he said, predicting some effects will be felt more than 100 miles from the storm's center.

North Carolinians are bracing for impact as Hurricane Florence barrels toward Wilmington with the Piedmont expected to feel the storm's wrath.

Hurricane Florence was traveling over warm Atlantic waters and gaining energy as it moved 625 miles southeast of Bermuda Monday.

Florence crossed the 74 miles per hour threshold from a tropical storm to a hurricane on Sunday morning and by 11 p.m. that night had sustained a maximum of 90 miles per hour winds. As the forecast becomes clearer, Florence poses three challenges: coastal storm surge, strong winds and inland flooding that inundates rivers and low-lying ground. "These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions", officials said.

A tracker map from the center on Monday forecast the hurricane making landfall in the Carolinas Thursday morning, and expected the storm to continue through Saturday morning, when it will have weakened to a tropical depression.

Boarded up houses are seen ahead of Hurricane Florence's expected landfall, at Holden Beach, North Carolina, U.S., September 10, 2018.

"Florence is a threat well beyond our coast", Cooper said.

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If a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) does make landfall along the southeast coast, the rarity of such an event is relevant. Florence has been upgraded for the second time Monday and is now a Category 4 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said.

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Though the NHC can't pinpoint with certainty the exact location and magnitude of the impacts, they said, "interests at the coast and inland from SC into the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the progress of Florence, ensure they have their hurricane plan in place, and follow any advice given by local officials".

"When weather forecasters tell us 'life threatening, ' we know it's serious". Since reliable record-keeping began more than 150 years ago, North Carolina has been hit by only one Category 4 hurricane: Hazel, with 130 miles per hour winds, in 1954.

Historically, 90 percent of fatalities from hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions have been caused by water, NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office described Florence as possibly the state's "most significant hurricane event in decades", and warned of "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages".

"We're in for a real episode here", McMaster said at a press conference.

The U.S. military said it was sending an advance team to Raleigh, North Carolina, to coordinate with federal and state partners.

Florence now is a category 1 hurricane as of the 5 p.m. advisory. "We're just a strip of land - we're a barrier island", she said.

"The most likely scenario is that it hits the North Carolina coast", meteorologist Dale Eck said in an interview. Isaac's forward movement was accelerating on a path to cross into the lower Caribbean on Thursday.

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