More than 1 million to flee as Florence rips toward East Coast

11 September, 2018, 13:27 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Hurricane Florence: South Carolina Still In Danger Zone

A rapidly strengthening Hurricane Florence churned across the Atlantic on Sunday toward a possible direct hit on the U.S. Southeast late this week, triggering warnings to people up and down the coast to get their emergency kits ready, map out escape routes and fill sandbags.

Hurricane Olivia, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center's advisory issued at 11 a.m. ET Sunday, is approaching Hawaii with maximum sustained winds near 80 miles per hour and is expected to remain at hurricane strength through Monday evening.

The Miami-based centre 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 of the USA should prepare for a major strike late in the week.

Florence "is expected to remain an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC in Miami said.

Further strengthening is expected, as Florence moves toward North and SC, where it could unleash its fury as the most powerful storm to hit the region in three decades. Also, large swells affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast will continue this week.

"There is an increasing risk of two life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast and freshwater flooding from a prolonged heavy rainfall event inland", the NHC said Sunday.

The storm's sustained winds reached 75 mph (121 kph), just over the threshold for a hurricane, on Sunday morning as it was swirling across the Atlantic, about 750 miles (1,210 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially began June 1, but cooler water and higher wind shear - winds moving at different speeds and directions - early in the season are less than ideal for tropical systems to gain and maintain strength.




Helene is brushing past the Cabo Verde Islands off Africa before drifting into the central Atlantic, while Isaac could grow to a hurricane and threaten the small islands in the Caribbean Sea by Thursday. One year after historic storms that ravaged the American Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico last year, officials warned not to underestimate the threat the storm poses.

South Carolina's emergency management agency said it is "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

The late Monday night update shows the model tracks shifting slightly north up North Carolina where it's expected to take aim at the southeastern coast. It will continue to strengthen and likely upgrade to a category 4 by Tuesday. Hurricane Floyd was a Category 4 storm before it hit Florida, traveled up the coast and struck Cape Fear as a strong Category 2 storm.

The National Hurricane Center update on Sunday afternoon had Florence roughly 720 miles southeast of Bermuda, with little chance of being weakened by upper level winds or cooler water. Smithfield Foods Inc., the No. 1 hog producer, and chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. saw their North Carolina operations disrupted in 2016 due to flooding from Hurricane Matthew. 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. "Florence could dump a foot of rain in places that cannot handle it, making for a very scary flooding situation in some areas". It was moving west at 10 km/h.

Preparations for Florence come as the Atlantic hurricane season hits its peak.

Graham urged coastal residents to finish their planning before the arrival of tropical-storm-force windows on Wednesday.

Helene is moving toward the west-northwest near 14 miles per hour (22 km/h).

Florencewill probably create more wind than Hurricane Hugo and more water than Hurricane Matthew, McMaster warned. Weakening is forecast to begin by the middle of the week.

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