Trump urges precautions ahead of 'very bad' Hurricane Florence

Muriel Hammond
September 12, 2018

Hurricane Florence may become only the fourth Category 4 hurricane to make landfall along the US East Coast north of the state of Georgia, with the others being Hugo (1989), Gracie (1959), and Hazel (1954), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's historic database.

"Florence is quickly becoming a powerful hurricane", The National Hurricane Center said in a statement Monday morning.

Helene - 375 miles (600 kms) west of the Cape Verde islands off the African coast - had winds up to 105 mph (165 kph), and was expected to continue moving west-northwest for another couple of days, the NHC said in its 1500 GMT bulletin. Most of the state of Hawaii was under either a tropical storm warning or watch on Monday morning, as Hurricane Olivia bears westward, with 85 miles per hour winds. These swells will result in life-threatening surf and rip currents.

Forecasters said Florence could become an extremely risky major hurricane sometime Monday and remain that way for days.

Virginia, and North and SC have declared states of emergency and authorities as far north as New Jersey are warning people along the coast to take precautions, including for the possibility of flooding rains far inland.

"We know that this evacuation order is going to be inconvenient for some people", Gov. Henry McMaster, R-S.C., said in a press conference on Monday afternoon, "but we do not want to risk one South Carolinian's life".

CNN's forecasters warn that Florence could be the strongest and most devastating hurricane to hit North and SC in about three decades.

"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday", said the NHC.

Despite facing heavy winds late last week, Hurricane Florence beat the odds.

Weather Underground founder Dr Jeff Masters said: "I saw a presentation a few years ago that showed that Hurricane Katrina of 2005 increased markedly in size after it absorbed a small area of disturbed weather over the southeast Gulf of Mexico, acquiring more moisture and spin".

Although the path of the Hurricane remains unclear, the center is warning people to "closely monitor the progress of Florence, ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and follow any advice given by local officials".

Storm surge and hurricane watches may be issued Tuesday morning for portions of southeastern U.S. states, the NHC said.

Evacuations began Monday in coastal Carolina regions as landfall still looks likely near the state line between North Carolina and SC.

On Sunday, South Carolina's state emergency management agency tweeted it was "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

"If it decides to come here, we're gone", he said.

Oosterwyk was gathering important papers including tax documents from her store on Monday, and said she planned to drive 240km (150 miles) inland to Cary to ride the storm out.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles. SC ordered an estimated 1 million people to evacuate its coast.

Communities along a stretch of coastline that's vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change were told to evacuate ahead of the storm.

Hurricane Florence as seen from the International Space Station on Monday, September 10, 2018. Even inland areas have the potential for Category 1 or 2 storms.

"The most likely scenario is that it hits the North Carolina coast", meteorologist Dale Eck said in an interview.

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