Carolinas brace as Florence strengthens to Category 4 hurricane

Doug Carpenter
September 14, 2018

Posted: Sep. 11, 2018 8:00 am Updated: Sep.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered a mandatory evacuation of all eight counties on the coast on Monday, The State newspaper in Columbia reported.

Several meteorologists said Florence could do what Hurricane Harvey did past year over Texas, dumping days of rain, although not quite as bad. At landfall, Florence will also slow down so flooding becomes the third threat.

Ocracoke Island illustrates the huge problems faced by North Carolina and SC as residents prepare for the probable landfall of a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.

While the military has moved 30 Navy ships based in Norfolk, Virginia, including the aircraft carriers USS George H.W. Bush and USS Abraham Lincoln, nearly 1,000 National Guard troops have been activated in North and SC to help with any possible hurricane-related problems.

Florence continued its path toward the East Coast overnight Monday, maintaining its monstrous Category 4 storm status and 140-mph winds.

"We're just a strip of land - we're a barrier island", she said. Forecast models suggest that more than two feet of rain could fall over the higher elevations of the Carolinas and Virginia, which would generate risky flooding downstream.

President Donald Trump is canceling a campaign rally in advance of Hurricane Florence's landfall.

The Neighborhood Forum previously scheduled for September 12 has been canceled.

"This is very scary rain event potentially setting up this week", Rossi said. And it looks like right (inaudible) bull's eye of the storm is due (inaudible).

Other hurricanes that have smashed into the Carolinas include Hugo in 1989, Fran in 1996 and Isabel in 2003, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue.

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

It remains an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday night.

The storm is expected to reach SC and North Carolina later this week.

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper's office said Florence is already being felt along the state's coast, with large sea swells resulting in life-threatening rip currents and surf.

"Most of the storms that come off of Africa generally move from east to west, and then they curve around that [high-pressure system and go] to the north and, hopefully, off into the Atlantic", Bell told Live Science.

Early on Tuesday, Florence was centred about 975 miles east-south-east of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west-north-west at almost 15mph.

As for a hit on the US mainland, the most recent Cat 4 at landfall was Hurricane Harvey a year ago, which hit Texas with winds of 130 miles per hour.

By Monday morning, the NHC classified Florence as a "major" Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

Airlines, including American and Southwest, have started letting passengers change travel plans that take them into the hurricane's possible path. "Thus, the intensity forecast is raised from the previous one, bringing Florence close to Category 5 strength tomorrow", the NHC said. No hurricane has made landfall as a Category 5 in this region on record.

Perhaps the worst-case scenario for flight schedules is if Florence stalls after moving on shore while blocking the busy flight routes along the Atlantic coast. By evening, the storm was centred about 1,170 miles (1,880 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, the NHC said.

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