Powerful Florence still churning toward NC coast

COURTESY NOAA           The current forecast track for Hurricane Olivia shows it starting to impact the state on Tuesday

Hurricane Florence moved closer to the U.S. East Coast after becoming a major hurricane Monday again.

By the time it reaches the USA mainland, the NHC says Florence will strengthen into "an extremely risky major hurricane". Forecasters said it now has maximum sustained winds of about 140 miles per hour and even stronger gusts, in the NHC's latest update.

Maps of the storm's trajectory show it is most likely to make landfall between northern SC and North Carolina's Outer Banks on Thursday, making it the most powerful storm to strike the Carolinas in almost three decades.

Forecasters have warned the the hurricane could be "life threatening" by the time it strikes.

Already a Category 4 storm with winds of up to 140mph, Florence is likely to further strengthen and could become Category 5 as early as Tuesday. While Helene's outlook calls for it to head into the open Atlantic, Isaac will probably hit the Caribbean's Lesser Antilles Islands Thursday and potentially brush Puerto Rico, still recovering from last year's Maria, as a strong tropical storm later. The hurricane is about 580 miles SSE of Bermuda and 1,240 miles ESE of Cape Fear, North Carolina.

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.

Florida governor Rick Scott, whose state experiences the most hurricane-force storms in the U.S., pledged resources, expertise and guidance to the three states in which emergencies have been declared. "Damaging hurricane-force winds are likely along portions of the coasts of SC and North Carolina, and a Hurricane Watch will likely be issued by Tuesday morning". The storm will also be in a position where it can continue to collect more moisture from the Atlantic - and that's an alarming combination.




With little wind to pull the storm apart, Florence's hurricane wind field is expected to expand over coming days, increasing its storm surge and inland wind threats.

A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and Florence will be moving over waters where temperatures are peaking near 85 degrees, hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote.

"This morning, I received a full briefing from the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Hurricane Florence". But the season is just now peaking, and Hurricanes Florence, Isaac, and Helene are a stark reminder that we are not out of the woods yet.

Preparations for Florence were intensifying up and down the densely populated coast.

Florence could bring a deadly coastal storm surge, and inland flooding as far north as Virginia, the NHC said. Arnold shared his first photos of Hurricane Florence, taken when it was still a Category 2 storm.

Florence "is particularly big, particularly strong and. there's nothing stopping it", the SC governor Henry McMaster said at a news conference on Monday.

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