Carolinas brace for potentially devastating Hurricane Florence

Carolinas brace for potentially devastating Hurricane Florence

That means the Palmetto State is still very much in the danger zone for a direct hit from this storm - which is forecasted to begin undergoing "rapid intensification" this week as it churns toward a late Thursday or early Friday morning arrival on the east coast as a major (i.e. category three or stronger) hurricane.

"None of the guidance suggest that Florence has peaked in intensity", the Hurricane Center said, predicting that its peak winds will reach 155 miles per hour Tuesday, just 2 miles per hour shy of Category 5.

According to the latest Hurricane Florence forecast tracker model runs from the National Hurricane Center, the storm is appearing to trend slightly more southwesterly, which could put the massive storm close to the South Carolina-North Carolina border at landfall.

The storm itself, however, is not expected to make landfall until Thursday evening at the earliest, according to the latest forecast path from the NHC. 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.

The National Hurricane Center will issue its next update on Florence at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Swells generated by Florence were affecting Bermuda and starting to reach parts of the U.S. East Coast.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's office said that Florence is already being felt along the state's coast, with large sea swells resulting in life-threatening rip currents and surf.

The storm is 685 miles southeast of Bermuda, moving westward at 7 mph with maximum-sustained winds of 90 mph - and it's strengthening as it heads toward the East Coast.

Florence had reached Category 3 strength earlier Monday, but data from hurricane hunter aircraft indicate the storm is quickly getting stronger as it moves over warm Atlantic waters.

Forecasts call for 10 to 15 inches (25-38 cm) of rain in the hardest-hit areas, possibly more if the storm stalls over land, as expected, Graham said.

States of emergency were declared in the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland.

Landfall could be made between SC and North Carolina on Thursday, according to NHC predictions.

Over the years, powerful storms such as 1989's Hurricane Hugo have wreaked damage across the Carolinas, but only one Category 4 hurricane, Hazel, has made landfall on North Carolina in the last 150 years.

As of the NHC's advisory issued at 11 a.m. EST Sunday, Hurricane Florence's center will move over the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it will get to the southeastern US coast on Thursday. By Monday morning, the hurricane center classified Florence as a "major" Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour. Forecasters also warned of a rising threat of life-threatening storm surge, along with the damaging winds. Smithfield Foods Inc., the No. 1 hog producer, and chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. saw their North Carolina operations disrupted in 2016 due to flooding from Hurricane Matthew. By 11 a.m. Monday, Florence became a major hurricane, with top sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. Also take this time to prepare, have a hurricane preparedness kit and have a plan in place with your family in case the worst arrives with Hurricane Florence. The storm was moving west at 14 mph (22 kmh) and expected to accelerate over the next 36 hours.

Each line represents a computer model's best "guess" of where the center of the storm will go. That storm was centred 185 km south southeast of the islands. The storm was moving toward the west at about 7 miles per hour and is expected to speed up and turn toward the northwest by Monday. Weakening is forecast to begin by the middle of the week as Isaac approaches the Lesser Antilles.

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