Evacuations Ordered as Hurricane Florence Becomes Category 4 Storm

Evacuations Ordered as Hurricane Florence Becomes Category 4 Storm

Evacuations Ordered as Hurricane Florence Becomes Category 4 Storm

Hurricane Florence, at center, is a Category 4 storm heading for the Carolinas.

The hurricane was gaining strength as it traveled over warm Atlantic waters, about 1,240 miles (2,000 km) east-southwest of Cape Fear, North Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

The storm is forecast to continue towards the United States, and approach the southeastern coast by Thursday. Residents in this part of the east coast should prepare now for the possibility of a major hurricane at landfall.

The first effects are already being seen - rip currents have hit beaches, causing seawater to flow over a state highway.

Forecasters say the hurricane's strength is expected to fluctuate but it still will be a risky storm by the time it reaches the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday.

"The bottom line is that there is increasing confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely unsafe hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity", the NHC forecast warned.

There is an increasing risk of storm surge at the coast and damaging hurricane-force winds in the Carolinas.

The states of North and SC and Virginia - all potentially in Florence's crosshairs - have already issued emergency declarations to help speed preparations.

The center says the storm is moving west at 13 miles per hour, and has maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour.

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Both Tropical Storm Isaac and Tropical Storm Helene are expected to reach hurricane strength later today, but neither are considered potential threats.

The eye of the storm is expected to fall on Wilmington, North Carolina.

Dare County officials ordered everyone to leave Hatteras Island on Monday.

Heavy rain and strong winds are possible impacts in the Lesser Antilles.

"Folks, if you are in the Carolinas or Virginia - this is a historic storm", declared Eric Holthaus, meteorologist and journalist who writes about extreme weather and climate change for Grist.

As of Sunday evening, there are two hurricanes and one tropical storm in the Atlantic Ocean. Any Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane is classified as a major hurricane. Helene is expected to go out to sea after passing the Cabo Verde Islands, but Isaac could be on a path to the Caribbean, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria almost a year ago.

NHC director Ken Graham, says that Hurricane Florence is likely to slow down as it approaches the Carolinas - which could have devastating consequences for residents, reported the Independent.

Hurricane Isaac has seriously weakened recently due to the wind shear in the Atlantic.

The 2018 hurricane season lasts until November 30.

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