Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Florence is now packing winds of 220 km/h

‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Florence is now packing winds of 220 km/h

Southeastern North Carolina remains in the middle of the storm's "cone of uncertainty", with the cone extending from roughly Hilton Head, S.C., in the south to the Chesapeake Bay in the north.

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.

"Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!"

The warning was issued by the UAE Embassy on its Twitter account.

In South Carolina, mandatory evacuation orders take effect Tuesday at noon in eight counties along the state's 187-mile coastline.

The evacuations in Virginia will begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday for about 245,000 residents in part of Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore area.

The NHC says Florence will rapidly strengthen to become a major hurricane - meaning Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour (178 km/h) - later this morning.

Hugo in 1989 was the last major hurricane to hit the SC coast. He warned people living inland of flooding and power cuts.

"From eight o'clock 'til two we were slammed", said Johnson, who sold scores of bags of sand over the weekend, saving just a few to barricade the store's own doors.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1, and this year was forecasted to have a slightly above-average number of storms.

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Florence is forecasted to remain an "extremely risky major hurricane" through Thursday, the day when it's expected to reach the Carolinas.

The water could rise 6 to 12 feet in the area of Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, including the Neuse and Pamlico rivers, says the National Hurricane Center.

One year after major storms ravaged the Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico, officials warned those in Florence's path not to underestimate the threat the storm poses. Florence "is expected to remain an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said in a statement.

Some forecasts call for Florence to stall out after it strikes the coast. A total of 26 deaths were caused by Fran, 14 of which occurred in North Carolina. "This is the craziest one". Roberts said he's telling them to get out of town.

"The simplest answer is go to higher ground and inland", he said.

"I think this is very Harvey-esque", said University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy.

"It's too early at this point to be precise with how these impacts are going to stack up", he said, "but there is a huge potential someone is going to sustain devastating impacts as a result of this storm".

North Carolina ordered evacuations for the Outer Banks barrier islands, including popular tourist destination Hatteras Island.

On Monday afternoon, nurse Barbara Mack was using a small shovel to fill sandbags at a public works facility in Charleston - but she saw a silver lining in the hurricane preparations.

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