Forecasters: Florence to Take Aim at US East Coast as Major Hurricane

Tropical Storm Watch. Background image courtesy NOAA  NWS  CPHC

Carrying winds of up to 220 km/h as a Category 4 storm, Hurricane Florence is expected to strengthen and possibly become a Category 5 storm on Tuesday.

"Some strengthening is expected during the next 36 hours, and Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said.

Despite the storm being still some distance away from land, the National Hurricane Center has confirmed it is on track to hit the area around North and SC by Friday. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has given the entire coastline until Tuesday noon to leave.

Mandatory evacuation orders also were issued for more than 300,000 people in North Carolina and Virginia.

Climate scientist Cindy Bruyere said, "People that have typically not been exposed to them will now be exposed to them because the storms are going to move deeper inland and affect more people". "This is going to be a statewide event".

The National Hurricane Center said Monday that Hurricane Florence is now a Category 4 storm and continuing to intensify.

The eye of the storm is about 410 miles south-southeast of Bermuda and 975 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, N.C. It's moving west-northwest at 15 mph, the NHC said.

Hurricane Florence has the potential to bring catastrophic flooding to areas of the eastern United States already soaked by heavy rain. The storm is expected to bring catastrophic storm surge, destructive winds, and devastating flooding to the state starting and the end of this week.

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

Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka, US Open 2018 final
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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. Hospitals and nursing homes have begun the evacuation process and the National Guard and Red Cross have descended on the area.

"It's scary to all of us".

"Probably worst case scenario is next weekend, maybe Saturday and Sunday, we get some remnants of it, but it's really hard to say", says Bill Simpson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in MA", who refers to what's coming our way as at best "a minimal impact".

Two other storms also are churning in the Atlantic.

At a press conference on Monday, Cooper called his state the "bullseye" for Hurricane Florence, saying they are "bracing for a hard hit".

The US military is taking precautions as well. It said about 750 military personnel will be designated to provide support.

Trump said in a Twitter message he had spoken to the governors of North and SC and Virginia, adding: "Federal government stands by, ready to assist".

Forecasters have predicted as much as 20inches of rain in parts of North Carolina, which could cause potentially fatal flooding.

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