Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Florence expected to become a major hurricane as it heads to US

TROPICS: Florence to become a hurricane today; TD 9 strengthening State of emergency called in North Carolina as tropical storm Florence nears US East Coast
Jay Anderson | 10 September, 2018, 10:12

The northern coast of SC and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are likely to be the areas most impacted by the storm, which could cause $15.32 billion in damage if it stays on its current five-day forecast track, said Chuck Watson, a disaster researcher at Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia.

The Miami-based center says Florence is gaining strength and is expected to become a major hurricane Monday and keep that status as a powerful and extremely risky storm until Thursday.

Florence's maximum sustained winds jumped from 75 to 85 miles per hour as its speed increased from 7 to 8 miles per hour, the hurricane center said.

The center of Florence was located about 685 miles (1,100 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, the NHC in its 0300 GMT Monday advisory. What's worrisome is that the storm could stall at that point and wring out heavy, flooding rains throughout the area.

The storm's center was on track to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Wednesday, the NHC said.

But authorities were taking no chances as the governors of North and SC and Virginia declared states of emergency far ahead of the approaching storm.

"Whatever happens, we're going to have a lot of rain and a lot of wind, even if the hurricane goes farther north", McMaster said.

More: Will growing scenes of hurricanes, wildfires and volcanoes make us a go-bag people?




"It's still important to remember the cone of uncertainty still covers the entire SC coast, as the governor mentioned, meaning that landfall along coastal SC is still a possibility", Quagliariello said. Meanwhile, Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune urged residents to secure their homes, but said it's too early to know if evacuations will be ordered.

At 6pm today, Florence was 720 miles southeast of the island, moving west at 7mph.

Carnival Cruise Line said Sunday that it had changed the schedule of its cruise ships to accommodate tropical weather threats.

Isaac, previously a tropical storm, strengthened to become the fifth hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, the NHC said. It is not out of the question that Florence could become a Category 5 hurricane at some point.

"This storm is too powerful and its path is too uncertain to take any chances", South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said in issuing his state's emergency declaration.

- The S.C. Emergency Management Division on Sunday announced it now is operating at Operation Condition 3, which means that agencies are preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster emergency situation as officials monitor the forecasts of Florence. Now 1,500 miles away, it could pass over the same islands that were devastated by Category 5 Hurricane Maria past year on September 19.

Forecasters predicted it would become a risky Category 4 storm before a possible landfall Friday. Admiral Christopher Grady said ships can better weather "storms of this magnitude when they are underway".

"What that means for us is whatever happens, we're going to have a lot of rain and a lot of wind", he said, adding, "Presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of SC".

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