Millions on US East Coast brace for 'extremely dangerous' Hurricane Florence

Andrew Cummings
September 12, 2018

A strengthening Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall on Thursday, bringing with it potentially catastrophic storm surges, winds and flooding.

Its centre will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the coast of South or North Carolina on Thursday, the National Hurricane Centre said.

The storm was located about 950 miles (1,530 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, at 5 a.m. ET (0900 GMT), according to the NHC, which warned it would be "an extremely risky major hurricane" through Thursday night.

"Rapid strengthening is forecast, and Florence is forecast to become a major hurricane this morning, and is expected to remain an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", it said.

The "extremely risky major hurricane" is predicted to hit the coast late Thursday or early Friday morning, dropping as much as 30 inches of rain in some areas, says the National Hurricane Center.

Both the Hurricane and Storm Surge Watches cover the area from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, north to the North Carolina-Virginia border, according to a statement issued Tuesday.

Cooper and his counterparts in neighboring SC and Virginia ordered about 1 million people to evacuate coastal homes, including along the Outer Banks barrier islands.

Many coastal residents in North and SC have already evacuated. Seven-day rainfall totals are forecast to reach 25 to 50 centimetres over much of North Carolina and Virginia, and even 75 centimetres in some places.

"We're going to get a lot of rainfall in a relatively short time", he said, adding flooding could be "life-changing" for many.

Hurricane Florence, which was briefly downgraded to a tropical storm last week, was re-upgraded to hurricane status on Sunday and looks like it is destined to barrel straight at the U.S.' East Coast.

Similar evacuations are happening all the way up to Virginia, where the governor has ordered a mandatory evacuation for residents of some low-lying coastal areas.

No coastal watches or warnings are now in effect.

Florence is now a Category 4 hurricane, packing winds of up to 140mph (224kph). Florence may become the "Harvey of 2018!" say some of my colleagues - and they're right.

Hurricane Hunter and aerospace engineer Nick Underwood captured the incredible video footage from inside Florence's eye, aboard the Lockheed WP-3D aircraft known as Kermit. They warned the storm could linger for days after making landfall. It might not leave, which means we're going to have some flooding.

Many newcomers have moved to the coast in the almost 19 years since the last strong hurricane - Floyd - threatened the area.

Simpson said starting Wednesday and through the latter part of the week, southern New England could see high surf, elevated swell, and possible rip currents due to the hurricane farther south. She said it was built in 2009 in Buxton, North Carolina, up on a ridge, and made to withstand a hurricane.

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