Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Hurricane Florence: Airline change waivers now extend to D.C., Baltimore

Hurricane Florence: Airline change waivers now extend to D.C., Baltimore

Hurricane Florence intensified rapidly to a category 4 storm Monday with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour., tracking toward the North Carolina coast with an expected landfall as early as Thursday.

More than a million people are expected to flee low-lying areas, as SC and Virginia ordered mandatory evacuations of coastal areas starting on Tuesday.

For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge: If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains all the way into the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions in places that don't usually get much tropical weather.

Before hurricane season ends on November 30, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects a total of nine to 13 named storms. "[That storm] tracked just west of D.C. and had major impacts on the area", Pallozzi says. "When you stall a system like this and it moves real slow, some of that rainfall can extend well away from the centre".

"We do not want to risk one SC life in this hurricane", Governor Henry McMaster told a news conference.

Kevin Orth loads sandbags into cars on Milford Street as he helps residents prepare for Hurricane Florence on Monday in Charleston, S.C.

As of 12pm EST, the storm was centered approximately 1,230 miles from Cape Fear, North Carolina.

"Storm-force winds" are expected to hit North Carolina beginning Thursday morning, and some eastern counties could see as much as 12 inches of rain in the four days that follow, the National Weather Service said in its Monday morning update.

At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other hurricanes, Helene and Isaac.

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Florence was producing large swells expected to reach from the northern Caribbean to the southern coasts of Canada's maritime provinces. Currently, Florence has winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kilometers/hour), making it a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the National Hurricane Center reported.

North and SC and Virginia have already declared states of emergency, and officials have begun evacuations in North Carolina. The Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane of 1933 is the only major storm that has tracked along Florence's path and ended up in the Carolinas, according to AccuWeather.

"We are in the bull's-eye", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said at a news conference. As we said, there have been evacuation orders.

Hurricane Isaac and Helene can be seen to the east of Florence.

The storm "is too powerful and its path is too uncertain to take any chances", SC governor Henry McMaster said, issuing his state's emergency declaration.

And earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office released a report that revealed that FEMA was so overwhelmed with storms by the time Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico that more than half of the workers it was deploying to disasters were known to be unqualified for jobs they were doing in the field.

The governors of Maryland and Virginia have also declared a state of emergency.

"I have just been informed that this is one of the worst hurricanes that came to the East coast for many years".

SHAPIRO: Wilmington, N.C., is now in Florence's path.

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