NHC Forecast: Hurricane Florence is rapidly strengthening

Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Isaac

The office warned of water ponding on Battleship Road near the U.S.S.

The evacuation goes into effect tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/11) at noon. Such swells can lead to unsafe surf and rip currents, the NHC warned.

As of 6 p.m., UNC has not issued a new update concerning Hurricane Florence.

Helene - now just southeast of the Cabo Verde islands off the African coast - had winds of 136km/h, and was expected to turn northwest and then north into the open Atlantic by midweek, the NHC said. The storm was located roughly 1,170 miles east-southeast of the Cape Fear region, and remained a unsafe Category 4 storm.

Hurricane Florence is expected to bring potentially catastrophic winds, flooding and storm surge. "With Florence strengthening into a hurricane this morning and continuing to move west, Florida families need to remain alert and remember that storms like this can change course and strengthen at any moment", said Gov. Rick Scott.

Forecasters say the hurricane's strength is expected to fluctuate but it still will be a risky storm by the time it reaches the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday.

Florence is expected to strengthen further.

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Historically, 90 per cent of fatalities from hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions have been caused by water, NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said. A high surf advisory has been posted across the entire coast.

Even if a direct blow is avoided, if Hurricane Florence slows or stalls near the shore it could cause devastating inland flooding, by unloading a foot or two of rain.

A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when maximum sustained winds reach 74 miles per hour. It is moving west at 14 miles per hour.

The United States was hit with a series of high-powered hurricanes a year ago, including Hurricane Maria, which killed about 3,000 people in Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Harvey, which killed 68 and caused an estimated US$1.25 billion in damage from catastrophic flooding in Houston.

As of 11 a.m., Florence was centered about 580 miles south-southeast of Bermuda, moving west at 13 mph.

The hurricane is generating swells that are already affecting Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast. It is projected to make landfall between Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina Thursday evening as a Category 4 Major Hurricane.

The USGS studies the impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms to better understand potential impacts on coastal areas.

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"There is still time to prepare but the window to do so is starting to close", he said.

As of early Monday, the storm was getting stronger, with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour.

"The chances of it going out to sea are extremely slim at this point", she said. "We just happen to be right in the middle".

"There is still some uncertainty about the exact location (of landfall). but the confidence is still increasing that Eastern North Carolina will see some pretty significant impacts", Simms said.

"This is going to be big", said Victoria Oliva, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

Food, bottled water, flashlight batteries and plywood flew off the shelves at stores throughout the mid-Atlantic, and in coastal Charleston, SC, city officials were handing out sandbags to residents.

It added: "The largest threat to life from hurricanes is not the high winds".

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The NWS is predicting "life-threatening" storm surge and inland freshwater flooding, with some models predicting upwards of 2ft of rainfall.

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