'Monster' Hurricane Florence takes aim at U.S. Southeast

Pablo Tucker
September 12, 2018

"That, folks, is extremely life-threatening". The very center of that bullseye may be Camp Lejeune, the sprawling Marine Corps training base, where authorities were opening emergency operation centers, staging equipment and urging families on the base to build survival kits with food and equipment needed to sustain themselves for 72 hours.

More than 1 million residents have been ordered to evacuate from coastal areas of the three states, closing university campuses, schools and factories.

This satellite image taken yesterday shows Hurricane Florence off the United States east coast in the Atantic Ocean.

However, probably the biggest concern with Florence is inland flooding, especially as the storm is now likely to become almost stationary along the Carolina coast and then slowly trudge inland. Since then, thousands of people have moved to the coast.

CORRECTS DATE TO SEPT. 11 NOT 1- This enhanced satellite image made available by NOAA shows Tropical Storm Florence upper left in the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday Sept. 11 2018 at 3:30 p.m. EDT. At center is Tropical Storm Isaac and at right is Hurrica

Preparations for Florence were intensifying up and down the densely populated coast. Hazel is the only Category 4 storm to ever hit North Carolina, when it devastated the southern coast in 1954 with an 18-foot storm surge.

"This storm is a monster", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a Tuesday news conference about the most powerful storm to approach the Carolinas in almost three decades.

For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge: If Florence slows to a crawl, it could bring torrential rains into the Appalachian mountains, causing flash floods and mudslides across a region getting lots of rain recently.

There is increased fear that Florence "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and unsafe rainfall event Friday-Sunday", the NHC said Tuesday. "The threat will be inland, so I'm afraid, based on my experience at FEMA, that the public is probably not as prepared as everybody would like", said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and numerous hog farms are on the storm's path.

Hurricane Florence as seen from space early Wednesday morning. Models are but one piece of putting together a forecast, but the guidance they're providing right now is really worrisome.

As of the 5am update from the National Hurricane Center, Florence is still a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and gusts 160-170 miles per hour.

As an added punch, one of the things meteorologists are keeping an eye on is high tide, Wagstaffe said, which is expected late Thursday into Friday - exactly around the time when Florence is expected to make landfall. It was moving between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday before nearing the Carolinas on Thursday.

Two other hurricanes, Helene and Isaac, are now trailing Florence in the Atlantic and forecasters have warned that they could head for the UK.

Airlines have already begun issuing travel alerts and waiving change fees ahead of the storm.

North Carolina's governor issued what he called a first-of-its-kind mandatory evacuation order for all of North Carolina's fragile barrier islands.

The impending storm, which Trump has warned about on Twitter, forced the president to cancel two campaign rallies this week: one in MS and one in Missouri.

Hurricane warning: South Santee River South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina and Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. If it does grow, the bigger wind field will give it a wider reach to whip more water toward the coast. Heed the directions of your State and Local Officials - and know that WE are here for you.

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