Forecasters: Florence to Take Aim at US East Coast as Major Hurricane

Jo Lloyd
September 12, 2018

Steve Pfaff, a warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Wilmington office, warned impacts could include storm surge and wind damage, although the storm's path remains uncertain at this time.

North and SC are anticipated to bear the brunt of Florence, which the National Hurricane Center said on Monday had strengthened to a Category 3 storm.

This travel alert allows customers whose travel plans may be impacted to rebook without penalty, the airline said in a news release Monday.

As Hurricane Florence grows stronger, meteorologists say it could hit the Carolinas later this week.

The National Hurricane Center is advising people in the hurricane's path to prepare for potentially life-threatening storm surges, freshwater flooding and damaging winds as Florence impacts the United States this week.

Additional watches may come later on Tuesday, the NHC said.

As of 11 p.m., the National Hurricane Center said the storm was about 1,085 miles east-southeast of Bald Head Island.

SC governor Henry McMaster has ordered the evacuation of the entire 187-mile coastline of the Palmetto State, effective at noon on Tuesday, in anticipation of powerful Hurricane Florence approaching the east coast of the United States. The center warns that such storms will snap or uproot most trees and down power poles and that power can be out in some areas for weeks or months.

Florence is now a category 4 hurricane.

Florence could bring a deadly coastal storm surge, and inland flooding as far north as Virginia, the NHC said.

Florence is now one of three hurricanes spinning in the Atlantic Ocean, along with Helene and Isaac.

But the large storm's tropical-storm-force winds could start to reach the coast of the Carolinas as early as Wednesday night, the NHC said. The center said the powerful waves are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

According to its current track, Florence is expected to make landfall along the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast Thursday. In September 1989, Hurricane Hugo smashed its way up from the SC coast near Charleston and made a beeline for Charlotte, knocking over thousands of trees and leaving many without power for weeks.

Florence, now a Category 4 storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, could approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday.

"We here in North Carolina are bracing for a hard hit", governor Roy Cooper said during a press conference on Monday. A total of 34 states and the District of Columbia have anti-price-gouging laws on the books.

Oosterwyk was gathering tax documents and other important papers from her store on Monday, and said she planned to drive 150 miles (240 km) inland to ride out the storm in the town of Cary.

Download the Ready NC app or follow NC Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter for weather updates and to learn how you can prepare for the storm.

North Carolina's governor urged people to learn what evacuation routes to take and put fuel in their vehicles in case they're ordered to leave.

"Once Florence moves inland, it's going to dump tremendous amounts of rain on the Carolinas and Virginia", Eck said.

"We don't panic, which is why we are amused that water was so depleted a week out".

Alicia Buchanan posted on Instagram from Walmart in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

"I don't think many of us have ever been through a Category 4". Two other storms also are churning in the Atlantic. "We're just a strip of land - we're a barrier island", she said. High waters from the rivers impacted homes and businesses after Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Any Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane is classified as a major hurricane.

It has so far reached a maximum wind speed of 90 miles per hour.

Eck suspects this to be partly, due to Earth's warmer atmosphere. "By mid/late August, temperatures near their peak, like that pot on the stove starting to boil", he said. "This is why there can be strong storms lingering into October".

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