More than one million under evacuation as Hurricane Florence nears Carolinas

Frederick Owens
September 11, 2018

Florence, the most powerful storm to menace the USA mainland this year, intensified into a Category 4 hurricane as it howled closer to the Carolinas on Monday, prompting evacuations of more than 1 million people to higher ground.

Hurricane Florence is moving slowly, but steadily, toward the U.S. East Coast, and its latest forecast path takes it directly toward the Carolinas.

In its 11 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said "a rapid phase of intensification" was expected to begin Sunday.

The storm is 685 miles southeast of Bermuda, moving westward at 7 mph with maximum-sustained winds of 90 mph - and it's strengthening as it heads toward the East Coast.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's office said Florence is already being felt along the state's coast, with large sea swells resulting in life-threatening rip currents and surf.

The largest U.S. Marine Corps base on the East Coast, Camp Lejeune and its extensive beachfront northeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, lie within the NHC's forecast "cone" for possible landfall.

The NHC said Sunday Florence has the potential to be a major, unsafe storm.

The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia have declared emergencies.

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"Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of South Carolina and is going to go way inshore", South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said. Those on the coast and inland from SC into the mid-Atlantic region should be on alert and have a hurricane plan in place, according to the agency. The storm could bring 2-4 inches of rain to those islands, risking flash floods. Cotton, corn and soybean fields, along with massive hog and poultry facilities lie in Florence's forecast path.Smithfield Foods Inc., the No. 1 hog producer, and chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. saw North Carolina operations disrupted in 2016 in flooding from Hurricane Matthew.

Isaac is expected to gain strength in the next day or two before beginning to weaken mid-week when it approaches the Lesser Antilles.

The National Weather Center warned of risky rip currents in popular tourist areas like Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks.

Isaac strengthened into a hurricane Sunday night, hours after Helene, too, became a hurricane.

AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rossi said the ground in North and SC and Virginia is already saturated from recent rains. SC emergency management officials said they were "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

The U.S. military said it was sending an advance team to Raleigh, North Carolina, to coordinate with federal and state partners. The Navy planned to send ships from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia out to sea.

Florence is now moving west at around 13 miles per hour (20 kph), and is forecast to drench a large swath of the US East Coast running from northern Florida to New Jersey.

The National Hurricane Center announced Sunday morning that Florence escalated into a hurricane with winds reaching 75mph as it swirls across the Atlantic.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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