Florence expected to become hurricane, take aim at Southeast

15 September, 2018, 16:00 | Author: Tracy Craig
  • Hurricane Florence strengthens to Category 4 - 41NBC News

The U.S. East Coast could be hit with a powerful hurricane next week as Tropical Storm Florence continues to strengthen as it moves toward the mainland, forecasters said Saturday.

With winds at 75 miles per hour (120 km per hour), Florence became a Category 1 hurricane and was expected to develop into a major storm, defined as Category 3 or higher, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami.

Forecasters said it is too early to know the exact path the storm will take but warned that it could roll ashore in the Carolinas by Thursday.

The Miami-based center said that it was still too early to predict the hurricane's exact path but that a huge coastal area from SC to the mid-Atlantic region should prepare for a major strike late in the week. It was centered about 1,240 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west at 13 mph.

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The U.S. Navy is making preparations this weekend for its ships in the Hampton Roads area to leave port as Tropical Storm Florence approaches the East Coast.

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On North Carolina's Outer Banks, Dawn Farrow Taylor, 50, was gathering photos and important documents and filling prescriptions Monday before heading inland. A Category 4 storm packs winds of 130 miles per hour (209 kph) or more and has the potential for catastrophic damage.

McMaster said he had asked President Donald Trump to declare a federal emergency in SC in anticipation of the storm's arrival. People rushed to get emergency kits ready, map out escape routes, fill sandbags and secure their homes. The state's emergency management agency said it is "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

In coastal Charleston, South Carolina, city officials offered sandbags to residents. "They're coming in and buying water and plates, and that's about all they're buying".

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper also urged his state's residents to get ready, noting the storm already was generating swelling waves and risky currents along the coast. It was on track to move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Wednesday, the NHC said.

In southeast Virginia, Naval Station Norfolk told its employees they should not leave their vehicles parked at the sprawling base in coming days because of the flood threat. The university said Sunday that it has issued a voluntary evacuation for students starting at midday Monday, noting classes would be canceled.

Florida-based Carnival Cruise Line was re-routing its cruise ships, but there were other hurricanes to contend with.

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