Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
Research | By Dana Schwartz

Hurricane Florence prompts mandatory evacuations as it nears Category 5 strength

Hurricane Florence prompts mandatory evacuations as it nears Category 5 strength

The National Hurricane Center said Florence was expected to slam into the coast around North and SC as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane on Thursday or Friday.

The NHC warned that Florence "is forecast to rapidly strengthen to a major hurricane by Monday night, and is expected to remain an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday".

The northern coast of SC and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are likely to be the areas most impacted by the storm, which could cause $15.32 billion in damage if it stays on its current five-day forecast track, said Chuck Watson, a disaster researcher at Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia.

The NHC said Sunday Florence has the potential to be a major, risky storm.

Governors in Virginia, North Carolina and SC have all declared states of emergency over the past two days in anticipation of the storm.

The National Hurricane Center will issue its next update on Florence at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Right now, Florence is expected to approach the Southeast coast on Thursday, Quagliariello said, stressing that the storm's predicted track likely can and will change.

The third hurricane in the Atlantic, Hurricane Florence, could pose a danger to parts of the U.S.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's office said Florence is already being felt along the state's coast, with large sea swells resulting in life-threatening rip currents and surf.

Hurricane Florence on Sunday had winds moving at 75 mph, and was 750 miles southeast of Bermuda, moving west at 6 mph.

Florence had reached Category 3 strength earlier Monday, but data from hurricane hunter aircraft indicate the storm is quickly getting stronger as it moves over warm Atlantic waters.

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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.

Many newcomers have moved to the coast in the almost 19 years since the last strong hurricane - Floyd - threatened the area.

SC and Virginia declared states of emergencies to give residents time to make preparations for the severe weather.

Models have come into agreement that a northward turn before reaching the United States is unlikely and that a building high-pressure zone north of the storm will cause it to slow or stall once it reaches the coast or shortly thereafter.

Olivia is expected to move west through Monday before turning west-southwest late Monday and early Tuesday local time.

Florence is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir- Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Drawing energy from the warm water, it could be a fearsome Category 4 with winds of 130 miles per hour (209 kph) or more by Tuesday, the Miami-based center said. Cotton, corn and soybean fields, along with massive hog and poultry facilities lie in Florence's forecast path.Smithfield Foods Inc., the No. 1 hog producer, and chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. saw North Carolina operations disrupted in 2016 in flooding from Hurricane Matthew. It was moving west at 10 km/h. Forecasters said it now appears Florence will speed up a bit in three or four days - "which unfortunately increases the risk of a destructive hurricane landfall". Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles.

Helene is moving west-northwest at 13 miles per hour, packing maximum-sustained winds of 85 miles per hour.

Isaac is forecast to become a hurricane by Sunday evening or Monday.

At 5 a, m., the center of Tropical Storm Isaac was located near latitude 14.6 North, longitude 48.1 West. Maximum sustained winds are near 70 miles per hour with higher gusts.

A westward motion is forecast to continue through the end of the week, with Isaac expected to move across the Lesser Antilles and into the eastern Caribbean Sea Wednesday night or Thursday.

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