Hurricane Florence nears Carolinas as 1 million-plus ordered to evacuate

International Space Station by astronaut Ricky Arnold shows Hurricane Florence over the Atlantic Ocean in the early morning hours of September 6

Hurricane Florence is plowing toward the East Coast as a Category 4 storm with a 500-mile wing span, forcing dire warnings and mandatory evacuations - including the entire coastline of SC and parts of Virginia and North Carolina.

The category 4 hurricane is now moving to the west at 13 miles per hour and is expected to begin a turn to the northwest by late Wednesday. It's expected to become at least a Category 3 hurricane before it hits the mainland US around SC and North Carolina, likely on Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Monday.

The center expects the biggest threats from Florence to be "life-threatening surf and rip current conditions". "Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC concluded.

Over the weekend, the governors of Virginia, North Carolina and SC declared states of emergency, according to CNN.

The South Carolina governor ordered the state's entire coastline to be evacuated by today and predicted that 1 million people would flee.

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Last week, Florence became the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season but was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday. As Hurricane Florence strengthens to a category 4 storm, Virginia is now bracing for a potentially catastrophic impact.


It said Florence, a Category 4 storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, could approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday. Its center will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Florence is one of three hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, along with Helene and Isaac.

Hurricane Isaac, much farther out to sea, has become the 5th named hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, the hurricane center added.

815AM Hurricane #Florence continues to strengthen this morning as cold cloud tops wrap around the center of circulation.

Residents of the US East Coast are preparing for the storm's arrival as the National Weather Service warned on Monday that "Florence is forecast to bring devastating rainfall and flooding from the coast to the Appalachians".

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Oliva said various models have the storm's eye making landfall anywhere between Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Cape Hatteras in the Outer Banks. That would make state and local agencies eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement of some costs. "Be prepared. Be ready", said Gov. Henry McMaster.

"This could be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the Carolinas since Hugo", Quagliariello said, referring to the Category 5 hurricane that caused widespread damage in the Caribbean and Southeast U.S.in 1989. Shelves in some grocery stores in Raleigh, North Carolina, were already bare, and residents were filling up their gas tanks, reported NBC affiliate WRAL in Raleigh. Heavy rain may impact as far inland as Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city, though the severity will depend on the storm's track, according to The Charlotte Observer.

In South Carolina, the price gouging law is now in effect.

"Satellite data indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 miles per hour (185 km/h) with higher gusts".

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. The storm was located roughly 1,170 miles east-southeast of the Cape Fear region, and remained a unsafe Category 4 storm.

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