Hurricane Florence: Terrifying storm could be upgraded to Category 5 before landfall

Olive Hawkins
September 12, 2018

Florence is now a Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 220 kilometers per hour (137 mph) with higher gusts - and forecasters say it is expected to gain more strength. The biggest problem now is there is nothing to slow or weaken this storm between now and then. "It is an extremely, dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in an Associated Press report.

Florence, it said, will bring "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic".

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in parts of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, affecting more than a million people.

To hasten evacuations in SC, officials reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so all major roads led away from the shore. He said the federal government is "absolutely, totally prepared" for Florence.

The American Red Cross said more than 700 workers were headed to the region while shelters had been set up for those unable to flee. A hospital in Hampton, Virginia, was transferring patients to safer places.

The "major" hurricane was about 845 kilometres south-southeast of Bermuda on Monday and moving toward land at approximately 20 km/h, according to an advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid.

US President Donald Trump said the "storm looks very bad" and urged people to take precautions.

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The United States was hit with a series of high-powered hurricanes a year ago, including Hurricane Maria, which killed some 3,000 people in Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Harvey, which killed about 68 people and caused an estimated $1.25 billion in damage with catastrophic flooding in Houston.

Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.

In addition to flooding the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 4m, Florence could drop 38 to 64cm of rain, with up to 89cm in some spots, forecasters said.

"We are as ready as anybody has ever been".

Long lines formed at service stations, and some started running out of gas as far west as Raleigh, with bright yellow bags, signs or rags placed over the pumps to show they were out of order.

"So, that high pressure is now driving Florence toward the East Coast", he said. Generator maker Generac Holdings Inc rose 1 per cent and reached its highest price since April 2014. "We're taking the necessary precautions to prepare the plant for the impending storm".

The US Coast Guard closed ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina and Hampton Roads, Virginia to inbound vessels greater than 500 tonnes and was requiring vessels of that size to leave if they did not have permission to be in the ports.

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