Hurricane Florence strengthens to potentially 'catastrophic' Category 4 storm

Hurricane Florence strengthens to potentially 'catastrophic' Category 4 storm

Hurricane Florence strengthens to potentially 'catastrophic' Category 4 storm

Hurricane Florence is expected to grow into an "extremely dangerous" hurricane by Monday as it approaches the US East Coast, the National Hurricane Center said, urging residents to make preparations.

The storm was still on a path to strike the Carolinas, potentially southern North Carolina, as a major hurricane at about 2 a.m Friday, according to the latest forecast from the hurricane center.

The National Hurricane Center said Saturday that Florence will start to rapidly intensify Sunday, and be a major hurricane by Tuesday.

Storm-force winds could begin buffeting the Carolina coast by Wednesday night, the NHC said.

Florence was about 685 miles (1,100 km) southeast of Bermuda as of 11 p.m. on Friday (0300 GMT on Monday), packing maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 km/h), the Miami-based forecasters said.

Florence rapidly strengthened into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane Monday as it closed in on North and SC, carrying winds and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States later this week. This, unfortunately will mean that Florence has a much higher chance of affecting the US east coast by later in the week.

"These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions", the center said.

Last week Florence was a Category 4 hurricane before it weakened to a tropical storm, then regained strength this weekend into a Category 1 hurricane.

Two low pressure systems off the coast of Africa behind Florence also had high chances of developing into tropical storms, forecasters said. It poses no threat to land at the time, the center said.

"Somebody is going to suffer devastating damage if this storms continues as it is now forecast", Dan Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia, told The State newspaper. Additional strengthening is expected during the next few days and Helene is forecast to become a hurricane on Sunday.

Florence is expected to strengthen into a hurricane next week and the governor says SC residents should begin preparing homes and property now.

The storm was centred about 875 miles southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 7mph.

Swells generated by Florence could cause unsafe rip currents and coastal flooding on Saturday in areas including coastal DE and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.

"While some weakening is expected on Thursday, Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through landfall", forecasters said.

Given the uncertainty and time it takes to evacuate, officials in North Carolina have issued mandatory evacuation orders for Dare County and Hatteras Island.

The shift west into SC after landfall is attributed to a big area of high pressure in the north that is keeping the hurricane to the south causing Florence to move towards the Carolinas.

Rapidly intensifying Hurricane Florence could strike a direct and risky blow anywhere from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic region later this week, possibly as a fearsome category 4.

President Donald Trump declared an emergency in North Carolina, allowing it to access federal funds.

Isaac, previously a tropical storm, strengthened to become the fifth hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, the NHC said.

Isaac is moving toward the west near 16 miles per hour.

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