Wednesday, 26 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
Glenn Montgomery | 10 September, 2018, 10:07

"A hurricane is coming our way", McMaster said Sunday at a news conference held at the State Emergency Operations Center. Its winds weakened Thursday when it returned to tropical storm status. "Presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of SC".

Gov. Henry McMaster told a news conference Sunday that people should "pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of SC and is going to go way inshore". That means filling prescriptions, planning a route, notifying relatives and emergency contacts of where you're headed, making plans for pets, boarding up properties and stocking up on provisions.

Florence could sit over some part of the Mid-Atlantic for several days, similar to what Harvey did previous year over eastern Texas. "So be prepared. Be ready".

Hurricane Florence is expected to grow into an "extremely dangerous" hurricane by Monday as it approaches the US East Coast, the National Hurricane Center said, urging residents to make preparations.

Florence turned into a hurricane Sunday morning and was swirling toward the US for what forecasters said could be a direct hit on the Southeast toward the end of the week.

The latest forecast models have increased the likelihood that Florence will pose a serious direct threat to part of the Eastern Seaboard this week as a potentially major hurricane. Winds in Hugo topped out at 135 miles per hour and the storm caused $7 billion in damage. Even inland areas have the potential for Category 1 or 2 storms.

Major Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr., who serves as the head of the Military Department of the state of SC, said more than 800 National Guardsmen have been activated and will be on active duty Monday.

Officials in the Carolinas warned residents to prepare and to brace for impact. The primary hazards from tropical cyclones (which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.

In South Carolina, Charleston city officials were offering sandbags for residents to fill.

The news release notes that plans could change if forecasts indicate a decrease in the strength or change in the track of the storm. As NPR's Bill Chappell reported, the town of Mountain View on the Big Island recorded 51.53 inches of rain as a result of Lane, the third-highest total ever measured from a US storm.

He added: "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best".

"All indications are that Florence will be an extremely risky Category 4 hurricane while it moves over the western Atlantic toward the southeastern United States", the hurricane center said.

- McMaster declared a state of emergency Saturday, meaning the state can put hurricane preparations into effect and begin coordinating resources, and it allows the use of the National Guard if necessary. The state's emergency management agency said it is "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

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

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