Evacuations underway as Florence strengthens to category 4 hurricane

Evacuations underway as Florence strengthens to category 4 hurricane

Florence, packing winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kph), was expected to grow even stronger before making landfall on Thursday, mostly likely in southeastern North Carolina near the SC border, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Since reliable record-keeping began more than 150 years ago, North Carolina has only been hit by one Category 4 hurricane - Hazel, with 130mph winds, in 1954.

The National Hurricane Center has repeatedly said that warm conditions in the Atlantic Ocean are fuelling the storm, which has been gaining speed and strength at an alarming pace, reported The Independent.

"We are in the bull's-eye", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference.

A hurricane watch is now in effect for hundreds of miles of the U.S. East Coast, from Edisto Beach in SC up north to the North Carolina-Virginia border.

Now rated as a category 4 storm - the second most powerful on the national weather service's (NWS) classification system - Florence would be the first storm of that magnitude in recorded history to strike the eastern coastline so far north if it remains on its most likely track.

A mandatory evacuation is in order for North Carolina's Hatteras Island, beginning Monday at noon. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will coordinate response efforts, according to Trump's order. The governors of both states declared states of emergency. SC governor Henry McMaster also suspended his campaign and asked President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration.

"This could be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the Carolinas since Hugo", Quagliariello said, referring to the Category 5 hurricane that caused widespread damage in the Caribbean and Southeast U.S.in 1989.

Florence strengthens 'rapidly,' now powerful Category 4 hurricane
All of Hatteras Island was under mandatory evacuation order and other parts of the Outer Banks will have to evacuate by 7 a.m. As of noon ET Monday, Florence was moving at 13 mph, some 575 miles south-southeast of Bermuda the hurricane center said .

Even the Navy was steeling for impact as the US Fleet Forces Command ordered all ships moored in the area to move farther out to the open Atlantic, away from Florence's path.

"We're still within what they call the cone of uncertainty and that means that the hurricane could make landfall", Gov. McMaster said.

On Sunday afternoon, Olivia was about 595 miles east-northeast of Hilo and was narrowly registering as a Category 1 hurricane moving west at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds at about 75 miles per hour. "But the effects of this storm will be felt statewide, and I encourage everyone in Virginia to prepare now".

Florence was packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, with higher gusts, the hurricane center said in its 8 a.m. ET update.

"Life-threatening flash floods" are now being predicted as the storm brings "very heavy, prolonged rainfall" across a large portion of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic, said a tweet from the National Hurricane Center.

Here's another look at the projected path showed the center of the storm hitting near the North Carolina cities of Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro.

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