Published: Wed, September 12, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Hurricane Florence is coming to the East Coast. Here's what to expect

Hurricane Florence is coming to the East Coast. Here's what to expect

The National Hurricane Center said Monday that Hurricane Florence is now a Category 4 storm and continuing to intensify.

TODAY weather forecast Al Roker warned residents on the East Coast to prepare for tropical force winds and up to 20 inches of rain if the storm moves inland.

"With the possibility that Tropical Storm Florence could make landfall in SC, likely as a hurricane, our people have already started making preparations", Attorney General Alan Wilson said. Helene is moving in a west-northwest direction at 16 miles per hour, as of 11 a.m. EDT Monday.

At 1500 GMT, Isaac, which the NHC called a small hurricane, was about 1,150 miles (1,855 kms) east of the Windward Islands - a region still recovering from last year's powerful Hurricane Maria - with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph (120 kph).

"Large swells and high threats of rip currents associated with Tropical Storm Florence will produce life-threatening ocean conditions along Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) beaches", the statement said.

By the time it reaches the USA mainland, the NHC says Florence will strengthen into "an extremely unsafe major hurricane".

The governor of Maryland has declared a state of emergency in preparation for significant flooding from Hurricane Florence.

The northern coast of SC and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are likely to be the areas most impacted by the storm, which could cause $15.3 billion in damage, said Chuck Watson, a disaster researcher at Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia.

"Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of SC and is going to go way inshore", McMaster said in a press conference.

‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Florence is now packing winds of 220 km/h
North Carolina ordered evacuations for the Outer Banks barrier islands, including popular tourist destination Hatteras Island. Florence "is expected to remain an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said in a statement.

"It's nearly certain there will be some impact on Charlotte, but it depends on the track", meteorologist Jake Wimberley said from the weather service's office in Greer, S.C. The office forecasts for the western Carolinas including Charlotte.

"It's not just the coast", Graham said.

"Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen", it said. During a press conference Monday morning, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said his state is "in the bull's-eye" of the storm. 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. This could be a very risky situation for them.

Although the path of the Hurricane remains unclear, the center is warning people to "closely monitor the progress of Florence, ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and follow any advice given by local officials".

Once the storm makes landfall, McMaster said, it's expected to move slowly, dumping extreme amounts of rain likely to cause flooding.

The hurricane is set to inundate low-lying islands off the coast of North Carolina, like the Outer Banks and other barrier islands, according to the NHC's "cone of probability" forecast.

Isaac is expected to gain strength in the next day or two before beginning to weaken mid-week when it approaches the Lesser Antilles.

Historically, hurricanes that approach the East Coast have been driven away by the jet stream that stretches across the northern United States after dropping down from Canada.

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