This enhanced satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence, third from right, in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. At right is Tropical Storm Helene, and second from right is Tropical Storm Isaac. (NOAA via AP)

Hurricane Florence reaches Category 4, could strike U.S. southeast

It’s too early to know the exact path, but forecasters said Florence could blow ashore in the Carolinas by Thursday.

Florence rapidly strengthened into a major hurricane on Monday, reaching Category 4 strength as it closes in on North and South Carolina,.

The first impacts were already being seen on North Carolina’s barrier islands Monday as dangerous rip currents and seawater flowed over the state highway. People were told to prepare to evacuate communities up and down a stretch of coastline already identified as particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change.

Related: Big Island feels the effects of approaching Hurricane Lane

Related: B.C. woman shares experience of riding out Hawaii hurricane

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 dangerous weather across a wide area.

“Florence is quickly becoming a powerful hurricane,” hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote.

A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and Florence will be moving over waters where temperatures are peaking near 85 degrees (30 Celsius), Blake wrote. And with little wind shear to pull the storm apart, Florence’s hurricane wind field was expected to expand over the coming days, increasing its storm surge and inland wind threats, and raising the likelihood of life-threatening freshwater flooding.

“The bottom line is that there is increasing confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity,” Blake said.

By 11 a.m. EDT on Monday, Florence had top sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph). It was centred about 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometres) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west at 13 mph (20 kph). Its centre will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the coast of South Carolina or North Carolina on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricanes Isaac, which could hit Caribbean islands, and Helene, much farther out to sea, lined up behind Florence as the 2018 Atlantic season reached its peak.

The governors of North and South Carolina and Virginia declared states of emergency far ahead of the approaching storm. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also suspended his campaign and asked President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration.

Navy ships off Virginia’s coast were preparing to sail out of the path, a North Carolina university has already cancelled classes and people have begun stocking up on plywood, bottled water and other supplies.

Red flags have already been flying on beaches, warning swimmers to stay out of the water as seas began kicking up. People rushed to get emergency kits ready, map out escape routes, fill sandbags and secure their homes.

“Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of South Carolina and is going to go way inshore,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said. The state’s emergency management agency said it is “preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster.”

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

Chilliwack firefighter seeking to reunite Rosedale VFD’s old auxiliary fire pump with antique engine

It’s been four decades, but Pat Liebault is hoping to reunite Rosedale’s auxiliary pump and engine

114th year of the Agassiz Fall Fair – Video and Photos

Corn-themed fair a success with locals, visitors

Man dead after being hit by 2 vehicles on Highway 10

Pedestrian in his 50s has died after being hit by two vehicles, one of which stayed: Surrey RCMP

1 person dead after crash on Highway 17 in Delta

Footage from the scene shows a mangled white truck that appears to have slammed into a barrier

Legal society poster seeks complainants against two cops on Downtown Eastside

Pivot Legal Society became aware of allegations made against the officers after a video circulated

Jury to deliberate in case of Calgary man accused of murdering woman

Curtis Healy could be convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter

House arrest for man who abused disabled B.C. woman, then blamed her

‘Groomed complainant’ and ‘violated position of trust,’ judge says

Liberals want to know what Canadians think of legalized weed

The federal government will comb social media for Canadians’ pot-related behaviour

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen boasts of aiding Mueller investigation

Cohen could provide information on whether Trump’s campaign co-ordinated with Russians

Landslide forces evacuations of Philippine villages

More than 1,200 people in villages near the landslide-hit area were forcibly moved by authorities

Most Read