Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Georgians urged to prepare for Florence

Georgians urged to prepare for Florence

WILMINGTON - Hurricane Florence has strengthened into a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour, according to the 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.

Helene - now just southeast of the Cabo Verde islands off the African coast - had winds of 85 miles per hour, and was expected to turn northwest and then north into the open Atlantic by midweek, the NHC said.

The Miami-based center said that it was still too early to predict the hurricane's exact path but that a huge coastal area from SC to the mid-Atlantic region should prepare for a major strike late in the week.

Florence should be a major Category 3 hurricane later Monday morning, and a Category 4 storm, with winds of 140 miles per hour, by Tuesday. "I plan to do most of my cooking on the grill".

While there is potential for tropical storm force winds in the Valley, the biggest threat by far here would be flooding.

As a precaution against Florence, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered an estimated 1 million coastal residents in his state to move inland.

Governors of Virginia, North Carolina and SC have declared states of emergency.

Florence is actually the lone major hurricane of the season so far as it was initially a category 4 hurricane in the open Atlantic before weakening and now restrengthening again. Several computer models have come into agreement Florence will impact the Carolina coastline, with many of them taking the storm inland. The hurricane's strength is expected to fluctuate but will be a unsafe storm when it makes landfall later this week.

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The consensus now expects a landfall somewhere in North Carolina, perhaps South if Florence shifts a little further.

If the storm stalls, some areas could see feet of rain, especially if downpours focus over the higher terrain in western North Carolina and southwestern and central Virginia.

On its current track Florence is expected to slam the Carolinas and Virginia the hardest - and all three states have issued emergency declarations to speed preparations.

Red flags flying on beaches warned swimmers to stay out of waters already roiled by the distant storm, and cruise ships and Navy vessels were set to be steered out of harm's way. People rushed to get emergency kits ready, map out escape routes and fill sandbags and secure their homes. "People are getting frantic", manager Nadine Schrock said, adding her shop also sold out cases of bottled water. At 5am Monday, Isaac was moving toward the west at around 13mph and was expected to arrive in the eastern Caribbean Sea on Thursday. "They're coming in and buying water and plates, and that's about all they're buying".

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) inland, some residents picked up hurricane supplies during their normal weekend shopping, The Daily News reported. However, we will likely see impacts here in the Valley as well.

Classes were canceled starting on Monday at the Wilmington campus of the University of North Carolina.

In southeast Virginia, Naval Station Norfolk told not to leave their vehicles at the sprawling base later this week because of the flood threat.

Florida-based Carnival Cruise Line re-routed its cruise ships. It's still likely to be near or at hurricane strength when it crosses the islands, forecasters said, with winds around 90 miles per hour.

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