The National Hurricane Center upgraded Florence twice Monday, saying the storm will continue to strengthen as it targets the Carolinas later this week. Since reliable record-keeping began more than 150 years ago, North Carolina has been hit by only one Category 4 hurricane: Hazel, with 130 miles per hour winds, in 1954.
The National Hurricane Center announced Florence was increased to a Category 4 hurricane Monday morning, with a projected path toward the Carolinas.
Hurricane Florence is likely to make landfall early Friday in North Carolina, prompting evacuations from the Carolinas to Virginia.
The first effects were already being seen on barrier islands as risky rip currents hit beaches and seawater flowed over a state highway.
But a weather formation known as a high-pressure ridge is parked over the U.S. East coast, preventing Florence from doing the normal turn, said University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy.
Kottlowski is concerned that Florence will slow down and possibly stall near or inland of the coast, potentially leading to a life-threatening flooding situation.
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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered the mandatory evacuation of the state's entire 187-mile coastline beginning at noon Tuesday. Two storms, Harvey and Irma, killed more than 140 people in the southeast and caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damages.
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In Brunswick County, in the far southeast corner of the state, the county government ordered the mandatory evacuation of people in low-lying areas and the voluntary evacuation of other areas.
North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said his state was "in the bullseye" of the storm.
The ocean waters that Florence is travelling over are about 2.7 degrees (1.5 degrees Celsius) warmer than normal, McNoldy said.
While in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, many are getting ready for life off the grid, buying up generators, flashlights, water and lots of plywood to cover up windows. They are heeding what the governor has said, what the emergency operations command center has been telling us.
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Evacuation shelter locations for those evacuating from the state's northern and central coastal counties will be available on scemd.org, McMaster said.
Hurricane-force winds are extending up to 65 kilometres from the storm's centre, while tropical-storm-force winds are blowing out at up to 240 kilometres. It says total rainfall could reach 30 inches in some places, prompting life-threatening flash flooding from SC to Northern Virginia.
As of Tuesday, Florence was driving sustained winds up to 140 miles per hour.
Hurricane Florence is likely to strengthen to a Category 5 storm as it approaches the United States where 1.7 million people have been warned to get out of the way.
It is forecast to make landfall in the southeastern states of North or SC on Thursday. Get ready. Get evacuated.
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