Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

More than 1 million to flee as Florence rips toward East Coast

More than 1 million to flee as Florence rips toward East Coast

It's now about 575 miles southeast of Bermuda, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an 12 p.m.

Florence rapidly intensified into a fearsome category 3 hurricane Monday and could strike a direct and risky blow to the Carolinas later this week, possibly as a category 4, forecasters said. If the strength continue to rise, Florence will be one of just three storms in the records to have winds of 150 miles-per-hour this far north, said Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University hurricane researcher.

A hurricane watch is in effect for the Cabo Verdo Islands of Santiago, Fogo and Brava. The storms are two of three hurricanes now spinning in the Atlantic. Cotton, corn and soybean fields, along with massive hog and poultry facilities lie in Florence's forecast path.Smithfield Foods Inc., the No. 1 hog producer, and chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. saw North Carolina operations disrupted in 2016 in flooding from Hurricane Matthew. By 11 a.m. Monday, Florence became a major hurricane, with top sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. Even with winds up to 130 miles per hour, Florence is still Category 4, Major Hurricane.

Hurricane Isaac - which late Sunday became the fifth hurricane of the season - is heading west towards the Caribbean.

USA landfall could come Friday between Charleston, South Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia, the Hurricane Center said. Gov. Ralph Northam ordered a mandatory evacuation to begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday for 245,000 people in parts of the Hampton Roads area and the Eastern shore.

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.

Florence was producing large swells expected to reach from the northern Caribbean to the southern coasts of Canada's Maritime provinces.

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National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned that Florence was forecast to slow down significantly and linger over the Carolinas once it reaches shore, dropping heavy rainfall as far as West Virginia.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division tweeted Sunday that officials there are "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster". Hurricane-to-tropical-storm-force winds could extend inland, depending on the storm's track.

Navy ships off Virginia's coast were preparing to sail out of the path, a North Carolina university has already canceled classes and people have begun stocking up on plywood, bottled water and other supplies.

Tropical Storm Florence has intensified into a hurricane, threatening to slam the East Coast later this week.

Hurricane Florence strengthened "rapidly" on Monday, September 10, and is now a powerful Category 4 hurricane, U.S. forecasters said, as governors of 3 eastern USA states declared an emergency and told residents to prepare for the storm.

In addition, in the Pacific, what's now Hurricane Olivia is forecast to approach Hawaii as a tropical storm on Tuesday.

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