Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

South Carolina Orders Mandatory Evacuation of Coast Ahead of Hurricane Florence

South Carolina Orders Mandatory Evacuation of Coast Ahead of Hurricane Florence

The earliest reasonable time that tropical storm force winds will reach the coast of the Carolinas is Wednesday night, but the most likely time is sometime Thursday morning, the hurricane center predicted on Monday.

Once it makes landfall, Florence is predicted to stall and remain over North Carolina for at least 24 hours - increasing the threat of unsafe flooding, NHC director Ken Graham said on Monday.

"Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased near 140 miles per hour (220 km/h) with higher gusts".

On Saturday, there are quite a few games in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia that could be affected by the impending storm.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster estimated about 1 million residents were under orders to evacuate the coast of his state. The move will allow the state to use the National Guard for preparations and recovery if necessary.

The hurricane, which strengthened to a Category 4 on Monday, is expected to intensify as it approaches the Carolinas, said John Quagliariello with the National Weather Service. "You see how it's beginning to wrap around the center".

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.

Florence is now a category 4 hurricane.

"While our state is not under any current weather advisories, in Florida, we know how quickly a major storm can shift its path and we cannot leave preparedness up to chance". The storm is expected to bring 15 to 30 inches of rain.

"This means winds jumped up from 75 mph to 130 mph in just 25 hours ending 12 p.m. EDT Monday".

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office warned of "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages", cautioning that the deadliest risk would come from flooding.

The governor of neighboring North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, a popular tourist destination, and parts of coastal Dare County, while a state of emergency was declared in Virginia.

The USGS studies the impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms to better understand potential impacts on coastal areas.

Although Florence's path has wavered over the past week, forecasters now project that the storm could still pack a Category 4 or even 5 punch upon landfall, which will occur along the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast (most likely upon the Carolinas).

Hurricane Helene, was spinning in the Atlantic off West Africa's Cape Verde islands with 85-mph (140-kph) winds on Monday, but did not appear to pose an immediate threat to land.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Isaac is expected to weaken as it approaches the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, and then possibly fall apart.

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