Hurricane Florence continues to strengthen: NHC

Olive Hawkins
September 11, 2018

It regained hurricane strength Sunday and was upgraded again Monday.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says while it's too early to tell where Hurricane Florence is going, it's time for people living near the coast to start preparations.

Dare County officials have announced that a mandatory evacuation order goes into effect on Hatteras Island at noon Monday.

"The farther north it comes the less impacts we will see", Walsh said Monday evening.

Hurricane Florence is approaching the East Coast and is expected to make landfall as a major hurricane on Thursday. "Well away from the coast - central portions of Virginia and central portions of North Carolina - you could be hundreds of miles away, several hundreds of miles in some cases away from the center, and you could still get those unsafe rains that are going to cause the flash flooding".

Another significant component in the latest update was a northerly turn.

The first impacts were already being seen on barrier islands as unsafe rip currents and seawater flowing over a coastal road.

Not only has the storm exploded in intensity, but its zone of hurricane-force winds approximately doubled in size Monday.

Florence had some rapid intensification on Monday as the Category 4 Hurricane continues to move on warm waters.

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

"You get the right ingredients and watch out", Walsh said Monday night.

"There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland, and damaging hurricane-force winds", the hurricane center said. Also, large swells affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast will continue this week.

"These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions", the center said.

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"Let me be clear: North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously and you should too", Cooper said at a news conference.

"The Storms in the Atlantic are very unsafe", President Trump said. A hurricane becomes a major (category 3) hurricane once winds reach 111 miles per hour.

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for residents living along the entire SC coast.

"This storm is too powerful and its path is too uncertain to take any chances", McMaster said. The system is moving west-northwest at 5 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center will issue its next update on Florence at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The storm is forecast to move generally in a westward direction over the coming days, with an increase in forward speed during the early part of the week.

Foremost among those is Tropical Storm Florence, which is expected to re-strengthen into a hurricane Sunday and looks increasingly likely to hit the East Coast.

Florence is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir- Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

"Florence is. expected to remain an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday", the hurricane center warned.

In a news release, the Navy said the ships can handle destructive weather better while at sea and that "having the ships underway also makes them ready and available to respond to any national tasking, including any needed disaster response efforts in the local area after the storm has passed".

Grocery stores are restocking shelves with water and bread, and supply stores are selling a lot of plywood and generators Monday as East Coast communities prepare for Hurricane Florence to strike hard later this week.

"Wherever this storm ends up, it's a nasty one and could slow down in these weak steering currents and bring big impacts", Walsh said.

"I think this is very Harvey-esque", said University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy. The storm was moving west at 13 miles per hour (20 kmh). While Helene's outlook calls for it to head into the open Atlantic, Isaac will probably hit the Caribbean's Lesser Antilles Islands Thursday and potentially brush Puerto Rico, still recovering from last year's Maria, as a strong tropical storm later. Maximum sustained winds are near 75 miles per hour with higher gusts.

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