Hurricane Florence Now Cat 4 Storm, Carolinas Bracing For The Worst

Eye of the storm Tracking Hurricane Florence and possible impact on Philly

This is the map issued Monday morning by the National Hurricane Center showing the probable path of Hurricane Florence. National Hurricane Center

- Hurricane Florence has continued to rapidly intensify, now reaching Category 4 storm strength as it closes in on the Carolinas. This week, most major USA airlines are waiving change fees for passengers whose plans change because they are flying to or from cities in the path of Hurricane Florence.

Isaac strengthened into the fifth hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season on Sunday, the NHC said, and as of early Monday, it was about 1,230 miles east 1,305 miles (1,985 km) east of the Windward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

As it nears the U.S. Atlantic shore, Florence will also benefit from "very warm" sea surface temperatures of up to 85 degrees, the National Hurricane Center said.

"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".

The US National Hurricane Center has warned that winds could reach 130 miles per hour, turning Florence into a fearsome category 4 storm.

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

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Millions of Americans are preparing for what could become one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the Eastern Seaboard in decades.

Virginia, North Carolina, and SC all declared a state of emergency for their respective states.

The storm could bring heavy rainfall and localized flooding to the Lesser Antilles, Accuweather reported, as well as tree and power line damage.

The US Navy ordered ships at its major base in Hampton Roads, Virginia, to put to sea, saying "the forecasted destructive winds and tidal surge are too great to keep the ships in port".

For many, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge: If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could carry torrential rains up into the Appalachian mountains, causing flash floods, mudslides and other risky weather across a wide area.

NASA's Aqua satellite captured this infrared image of Hurricane Florence on September 9, 2018, at 1:10 a.m. EDT (0510 UTC) using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will coordinate response efforts, according to Trump's order. "People are getting frantic", manager Nadine Schrock said, adding her shop also sold out cases of bottled water.

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Mandatory evacuations have begun along North Carolina's coast.

More than a million people living along the coastlines of SC and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate their homes on Tuesday, as parts of America's mid-Atlantic coast brace for what could be the most powerful storm to ever hit the region.

Off the state's coast, large sea swells and risky rip currents were already apparent over the weekend, foreshadowing the storm's arrival.

Florence is one of three hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, along with Helene and Isaac.

Winds are predicted to peak at 250km today, just 3km shy of a Category 5 storm, according to The Washington Post.

Hurricane season runs through November 30.

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