Evacuations ordered as Hurricane Florence strengthens to Category 4 storm

Michele Stevens
September 12, 2018

North Carolina's governor says consistency of the Hurricane Florence's forecast track toward the Carolinas has helped the state understand the threat early on and given it time to get ready.

Florence was about 575 miles south-southeast of Bermuda as of noon ET Monday, or about 1,230 miles from Cape Fear, North Carolina.

"If the hurricane miraculously, overnight, decides to go somewhere else, we can take corrective action", he said, saying it was easier to "stand down" state resources than have them "stand up" at a moment's notice.

Where is the hurricane now?

On its current track, Florence is expected to slam the Carolinas and Virginia the hardest. Tropical storms generate winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour, just below hurricane force.

Hurricane Florence may become only the fourth Category 4 hurricane to make landfall along the US East Coast north of the state of Georgia, with the others being Hugo (1989), Gracie (1959), and Hazel (1954), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's historic database.

At noon on Monday, Hurricane Florence blew into a Category 4 classification, a level experts previously predicted wouldn't occur until later in the week.

A Life-threatening storm surge is becoming more likely along the coastline of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, and a Storm Surge Watch will likely be issued for portions of these areas by Tuesday morning.

What else should I know?

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina, as did his counterparts in neighbouring sc and Virginia. With Virginia under a state of emergency, and forecasts showing Florence zeroing in on the mid-Atlantic, the time for all Virginians to prepare is now, officials said.

In Holden Beach, North Carolina, in the storm's path, longtime residents were boarding up homes and securing possessions.

"This is a very risky hurricane", McMaster said, adding that the evacuation order for coastal counties was "mandatory, not voluntary".

Since reliable record-keeping began more than 150 years ago, North Carolina has only been hit by one Category 4 hurricane: Hazel, with 130 miles per hour winds in 1954. Even inland areas have the potential for Category 1 or 2 storms. In South Carolina today, about 750 National Guard members were expected on duty.

"The chances of it going out to sea are extremely slim at this point", she said.

"Life-threatening freshwater flooding is likely from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event, which may extend inland over the Carolinas and Mid Atlantic for hundreds of miles as Florence is expected to slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland".

Meanwhile, two other storms were also spinning in the Atlantic.

Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered mandatory evacuations for all coastal SC counties starting at noon on Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Florence's projected landfall.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper waived certain transportation restrictions so that farmers could harvest and move crops more quickly. No coastal watches or warnings were in effect.

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