Evacuations underway as Florence strengthens to category 4 hurricane

Daniel Fowler
September 12, 2018

On the current forecast track the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas through Wednesday.

A hurricane watch, which means hurricane conditions were possible, has been issued for most of the coastline of South Carolina and North Carolina, specifically, from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, to the North Carolina-Virginia border.

"It's going to be inconvenient, but we do not want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane", said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.

Meanwhile, games affecting Major League Baseball pennant races likely will be impacted by Florence. It is expected to intensify to near Category 5 status as it slows over very warm ocean water near North and SC. Now a strong tropical storm in the Central Atlantic with winds of 70 miles per hour, Isaac was expected to move into the Caribbean by Thursday and track west. It is now located 950 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear. It is expected to strengthen and possibly become a Category 5 storm Tuesday before closing in on North or SC on Thursday. The wind damage from a category 3 or 4 hurricane is catastrophic.

Power companies warned residents may be without power for days or weeks. "Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months".

On the opposite side of the country, officials in Hawaii are warning residents and tourists to brace for the arrival of Tropical Storm Olivia.

Many areas, particularly focused along the North Carolina coastline, could see frequent gusts well over 100 miles per hour with sustained winds near 100 miles per hour as Florence slowly moves ashore.

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If a Category 5 hits the southeastern US, "a high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse", said the NHC.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia have declared states of emergency ahead of the storm. Unfortunately, the forecast is for the storm to stall out and drop a ton of rain in the Carolinas.

"There's never been a storm like Florence".

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah said all nuclear power plants in the area were preparing but that Duke Energy Corp's Brunswick and Harris plants in North Carolina were most likely to be affected and, if Florence turns north, Dominion Energy Inc's Surry plant in Virginia.

For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge: If Florence slows to a crawl, it could bring torrential rains all the way into the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions in places that have already experienced lots of rain recently.

"But if you put a foot or 2 - or maybe in some isolated places more - of rain over hills and mountains, you have a very different kind of problem, which is really more risky than the flat situation, as bad as that was", he said.

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