Florence strengthens to Category 4, takes aim at Carolinas

Hurricane Florence

A map of projected rainfall from Hurricane Florence

The storm threatened to hit coastal North and SC with 130 mile per hour winds and massive waves when it makes landfall on Friday, and its rains will take a heavy toll for miles inland, the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned.

"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday (Sept. 12) and Wednesday (Sept. 13), and approach the coast of North Carolina or SC on Thursday", according to the NHC.

Authorities warned of life-threatening coastal storm surges and the potential for Florence to unleash prolonged torrential rains and widespread flooding, especially if it lingers inland for several days.

Hyde County officials announced that all Ocracoke Island visitors have been ordered to evacuate starting noon on Monday.

Heavy rain in the Washington area over the weekend had already led to flooding in historic Alexandria, Virginia, local media said, and the National Weather Service issued a flood watch for part of the Potomac River. That also means that colossal weather systems like Hurricane Florence are easy to observe as the spacecraft cruises along.

Hurricane Florence has strengthened to a category 4 storm, and it's on a path to potentially cause serious damage in North and SC.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday declared a state of emergency for North Carolina ahead of the storm, which is expected to make landfall later this week.

Since 1851, only one hurricane has brought sustained Category-4 winds to North Carolina: Hurricane Hazel in 1954, Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach said. "Everyone in Virginia needs to prepare", he said.

By noon Monday, Florence was centered about 1,230 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west at 13 mph.

"This one is hard", she said, having been through hurricane damage before.

For many, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge.

It added: "The largest threat to life from hurricanes is not the high winds".

"As of right now, as of the 11 o'clock advisory, we don't anticipate any significant issues from Hurricane Florence, " said Chatham Emergency Management Agency Director Dennis Jones at a press conference Monday afternoon.

"It's on par with the storms we flew a year ago, like Maria and Irma", Kibbey said.

Henry McMaster lifted the mandatory evacuation order for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties Tuesday morning.

Once they get to their destination the team will shelter in place until the storm passes.

Families should prepare their emergency kits (keep scrolling for a list of items to put in them) and determine what they will do in case of a necessary evacuation.

In North Carolina, coastal evacuations were also underway late Monday - with more scheduled to begin on Tuesday. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

"It just kind of hits you in the gut when you see this thing strengthening and know that the forecast is calling for it to come in as such a strong storm", he told CNN on Monday after his third flight.

Hurricane Isaac is moving toward the Caribbean and could make landfall Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane.

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