Saturday, 22 September, 2018

American, Southwest airlines issue travel advisories as Hurricane Florence approaches Carolinas

Tropical Storm Watch. Background image courtesy NOAA  NWS  CPHC Tropical Storm Watch. Background image courtesy NOAA NWS CPHC
Leonard Rios | 11 September, 2018, 17:14

Some meteorologists are already predicting that Florence "could be one of the worst storms in USA history".

The category 4 hurricane is expected to hit as an "extremely unsafe hurricane" NHC says, despite predictions of some weakening after the next 48 hours. That means sustained winds of at least 130 miles per hour and expectations of catastrophic damage, the hurricane center says.

Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia also declared a state of emergency in advance.

As Hurricane Florence intensified into a major, Category 4 storm in the Atlantic Ocean today (Sept. 10), astronauts and satellites have spotted the enormous weather system from space.

These alerts are usually issued about 48 hours before storms are set to touch down, when the arrival of tropical force winds would make any last-minute preparation hard.

The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm watch for Maui County on Sunday afternoon as Hurricane Olivia prepared to pass directly over the islands.

By 5 a.m. Tuesday, Florence was centered about 975 miles (1,570 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).

A hurricane watch has been issued for the East Coast from Edisto Beach, S.C., to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

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In Holden Beach, North Carolina , in the storm's path, longtime residents were boarding up homes and securing possessions. There have been 3 hurricanes in the Atlantic at least 3 times in the last 9 years so this is not unprecedented.

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Classified as a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength, Florence was the most severe storm to threaten the US mainland this year and the first of its magnitude to target the Carolinas since 1989, when Hurricane Hugo barreled over Charleston, South Carolina.

"After 48 hours, a slight increase in southwesterly shear could result in some weakening, but Florence is expected to remain an extremely unsafe hurricane when it approaches the USA coastline".

Two other storms also are churning in the Atlantic. Forecasts call for 25-38 cm of rain in the hardest-hit areas, possibly more if the storm stalls over land, as expected.

Those in Florence's path weren't wasting time on Monday. Some coastal areas of North Carolina are also under evacuation orders.

The clip was taken early Monday morning and hours before the storm was upgraded in strength.

With current forecasts showing that Hurricane Florence will make landfall in North Carolina this week, the state got some important news. The hurricane caused an estimated $90 billion in damage there and on the U.S. Virgin Islands, making it the third-costliest hurricane in American history.

Authorities warned of life-threatening coastal storm surges and the potential for Florence to unleash prolonged torrential rains and widespread flooding, especially if it lingers inland for several days.

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