Florence strengthens to Category 4, takes aim at Carolinas

Rosemary Collier
September 14, 2018

"The forecast places North Carolina in the bulls-eye of Hurricane Florence".

"This is a very risky hurricane", McMaster said, adding that the evacuation order for coastal counties was "mandatory, not voluntary".

McMaster formally declared a state of emergency Saturday, allowing officials to put hurricane preparations into effect and begin coordinating resources.

An estimated 250,000 more people from the northern Outer Banks were due to be sent to higher ground starting at Tuesday midday.

If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rain to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other risky conditions.

A hurricane warning is in effect from the South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina. People living well inland should prepare to lose power and endure flooding and other hazards, he warned.

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Florence is now one of three hurricanes spinning in the Atlantic Ocean, along with Helene and Isaac.

"We got the hurricane and the surge coming at us form ocean and then after that we have water flooding us so were in for a real episode", said McMaster. The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office has not announced any road blocks ahead of Hurricane Florence as of Monday afternoon.

Ocracoke Island illustrates the huge problems faced by North Carolina and SC as residents prepare for the probable landfall of a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.

"Storm-force winds" are expected to hit North Carolina beginning Thursday morning, and some eastern counties could see as much as 12 inches of rain in the four days that follow, the National Weather Service said in its Monday morning update.

Forecasters expect the storm to linger over the Carolinas once it makes landfall, dumping rain, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham told the Associated Press.

Mass evacuations were ordered along the U.S. Atlantic Coast as Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm and the most powerful to menace the region in almost three decades, barreled toward the region on Tuesday.

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Since 1851, only one hurricane has brought sustained Category-4 winds to North Carolina: Hurricane Hazel in 1954, Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach said.

The state has submitted a request to President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration, clearing the way for federal money and assistance for any damage from the storm.

That's a reference to the infamous storm that came ashore just north of Charleston, S.C.in late September 1989 as a category three system - killing almost three dozen SC residents and doing an estimated $10 billion worth of damage. The hurricane was still expected to make landfall Thursday night along the central coast of North Carolina.

Lumberton, North Carolina, is about 80 miles inland, but people there still made a run on supplies at the local Lowe's, said store manager Mackie Singletary.

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said his state was "in the bullseye" of the storm and urged people to "get ready now".

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