State braces for major hurricane

Cesar Mills
September 12, 2018

Hurricane Florence is rapidly strengthening and is expected to hit the US east coast later this week as a major hurricane, according to the latest forecasted track.

The National Hurricane Center said on Sunday night that the storm could remain powerful as it passes over the USA mainland, and could penetrate as far as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The storm was moving at 13 mph, some 580 miles south-southeast of Bermuda.

Florence crossed the 74 miles per hour threshold from a tropical storm to a hurricane on Sunday morning and by 11 p.m. that night had sustained a maximum of 90 miles per hour winds.

Jeff Orrock, chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wakefield, said Virginia Beach can likely expect tropical storm force winds to arrive late Wednesday or early Thursday, with winds increasing throughout Thursday. "Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday".

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster told up to one million residents of the state's eastern coast to leave their homes ahead of the powerful storm's arrival on Thursday.

The last major hurricane to hit the North Carolina coast was Matthew in 2016, a storm that caused major river and flash flooding that killed 26 in the state.

According to its current track, Florence is expected to make landfall along the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast Thursday.

Now tracking in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of the US mainland, "A turn toward the northwest is forecast to occur late Wednesday night", the latest NHC dispatch stated. "Normally, a landfalling tropical cyclone just keeps on going inland, gradually dissipating and raining itself out".

Once it makes landfall, Florence is predicted to stall and remain over North Carolina for at least 24 hours - increasing the threat of unsafe flooding, NHC Director Ken Graham said on Monday.

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The hurricane has been rapidly strengthening all morning. We will have to continue to see how the next few advisories trend in order to have a better idea.

Alicia Buchanan posted on Instagram from Walmart in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

"Satellite data indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 miles per hour (185 km/h) with higher gusts". Olivia is forecast to make landfall in the Hawaiian Islands Wednesday as a Tropical Storm.

McMaster said Sunday that he has asked President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration.

Major flooding is predicted for a vast swath of land from Roanoke, Virginia to Charlotte, North Carolina.

On its current track, Florence is expected to slam the Carolinas and Virginia the hardest.

Though the NHC can't pinpoint with certainty the exact location and magnitude of the impacts, they said, "interests at the coast and inland from SC into the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the progress of Florence, ensure they have their hurricane plan in place, and follow any advice given by local officials".

But those in its path weren't wasting time.

Follow Mike Masco on social media for the latest updates on Hurricane Florence. There is the added possibility that the storm will slow after landfall, bringing sustained torrential rainfall and the potential for catastrophic flooding.

Other reports by GizPress

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