Hurricane Florence Intensifies As It Barrels Toward US East Coast

11 September, 2018, 09:39 | Author: Ann Santiago
  • TROPICS: Florence expected to produce damaging winds in Carolinas

Florence is now a Category 4 storm, reaching that status a day earlier than experts had predicted. Hurricane Florence was upgraded to a category 4 hurricane today (category 5 is the highest level), with maximum sustained winds around 130 miles per hour.

NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said historically, 90 percent of fatalities from hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions have been caused by water. The storm is already 500 miles wide - meaning a large area will be at risk when it nears land.

Now rated as a category 4 storm - the second most powerful on the national weather service's (NWS) classification system - Florence would be the first storm of that magnitude in recorded history to strike the eastern coastline so far north if it remains on its most likely track. To the west, a tropical disturbance has developed over the northwest Caribbean Sea. Finally, the hurricane force winds could spread well inland into the Carolinas as well as Virginia.

Most of the projected paths show Florence making landfall in North Carolina. It could hang over the area with a prolonged rain.

Florence is now moving west at around 13 miles per hour. "However, there remains high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely unsafe hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity", said the NHC in its discussion.

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. - The National Hurricane Center announced at 5 p.m. Monday it could begin issuing hurricane and storm surge watches as soon as Tuesday morning.

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Henry McMaster ordered an evacuation of the state's entire coast starting at noon Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Florence, leaving residents of Beaufort County wondering if they will be able to return to their homes if they choose to stay this week.

The coasts of SC and North Carolina have only been hit by about a dozen Category 3 storms since 1850. Vessels that can't leave port will prepare by a variety of means, from adding mooring and storm lines to dropping anchor and disconnecting shore power cables.

By the end of October, increasing upper-level winds lowers hurricane potential along with the chilling effect of cooler water.

Forecasters have warned of a life-threatening storm surge, along with the damage of a hurricane's high winds.

Florence is the third hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, after Hurricane Chris (Category 1) and Hurricane Beryl (Category 2), which formed in early July but didn't make landfall. Ocean waters in its path are unusually warm, many buoys reading in the mid-80s, supplying the fuel needed to sustain or strengthen Florence in the next 48-72 hours.

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