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

Hurricane Florence continues to strengthen

Hurricane Florence continues to strengthen

WILMINGTON, North Carolina (CNN) - As Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast of the United States, the governors of Virginia, North and SC have issued mandatory evacuation orders affecting hundreds of thousands of residents in coastal areas.

Hurricane Florence, the most powerful storm to menace the Carolina coast in almost three decades, intensified into a Category 4 hurricane on Monday, prompting evacuations of more than 1 million people to higher ground. By 11 a.m. Monday, Florence became a major hurricane, with top sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. By evening, the storm was centered about 1,170 miles (1,880 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, the NHC said. On this path, Florence will track over the warm waters off the southeast US coastline. "The last Atlantic hurricane to intensify as rapidly as far north as Florence's current location was Hurricane Humberto in 2007", he said.

Two hundred North Carolina National Guard troops have been activated, Cooper said, and more are prepared to be called.

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

A mandatory evacuation was ordered for Hatteras Island and Dare County in North Carolina.

Models have come into agreement that a northward turn before reaching the United States is unlikely and that a building high-pressure zone north of the storm will cause it to slow or stall once it reaches the coast or shortly thereafter.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is updating residents about the state's plans, including possible evacuations, ahead of Florence's arrival. "We don't want to risk one SC life".

State government offices, including schools and medical facilities, will be closed in 26 counties, McMaster said.

Issac is expected to gain strength in the next days, but then weaken by the middle of the week when it approaches the Caribbean.

Navy ships off Virginia's coast were preparing to sail out of the path.

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Concerns about the monster storm extended even into Virginia.

She, her husband and children will make the 4.5-hour drive to family in Dover, Delaware, as soon as he is cleared from duty.

But, she added, she's not sure whether going inland would be much safer: "I don't know where to go from here". People rushed to buy bottled water, plywood and other supplies.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper waived certain transportation restrictions so that farmers could harvest and move crops more quickly.

In Charleston, South Carolina, along the coast, city officials offered sandbags to residents.

Florence became a hurricane again once winds reached 74 miles per hour. It is now 1,305 miles east of the Windward Islands, which are in the West Indies, and moving westward at 14 mph. Hugo in 1989 was the one before that and was a Category 4 at landfall. Drawing energy from the warm water, the now Category 2 storm could be a fearsome Category 4 with winds of 130 miles per hour (209 kph) or more by Tuesday. Their governors declared states of emergency Friday and Saturday. In Maryland, where some coastal areas are still recovering from weather Gov. Larry Hogan said flooding could be catastrophic if it hits the state. They urged residents to fortify homes and gather supplies.

As meteorologist Stu Ostro of The Weather Channel reports via Twitter, since 1851, only four Category 4 hurricanes have made landfall north of Florida on the East Coast. "Action today can avoid losses due to Florence".

A total of nine storms have developed so far this season, with four hurricanes and one major hurricane.

NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center/Handout via REUTERSA photo taken from the International Space Station by astronaut Ricky Arnold shows Hurricane Florence over the Atlantic Ocean in the early morning hours of September 6, 2018. While Helene is forecast to slide out to sea away from land, Isaac is a very real threat in the Caribbean later this week, the hurricane center said.

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