Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Huge Hurricane Florence Looms Large in New Views from Space

Satellite image of Florence in the Atlantic Ocean taken on Sept. 9 Modal Trigger Satellite image of Florence in the Atlantic Ocean taken on Sept. 9. Reuters
Andrew Wong | 11 September, 2018, 09:37

The NHC says Florence will rapidly strengthen to become a major hurricane - meaning Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour (178 km/h) - later this morning.

Hurricane Florence is rapidly strengthening and is expected to hit the USA east coast later this week as a major hurricane, according to the latest forecasted track.

Hurricane Isaac, churning in the mid-Atlantic Ocean with wind speeds of around 75 miles per hour (120 kilometres per hour), is following closely behind Florence.

Florence is now moving west at around 13 miles per hour. The official forecast provided by the National Hurricane Center indicates the storm could be just shy of a catastrophic category 5 hurricane by Tuesday afternoon with winds of 155 miles per hour.

As the danger became clear over the weekend, the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia all declared states of emergency. The move will allow the state to use the National Guard for preparations and recovery if necessary.

Concerns for the Carolinas the Virginia are increasing by the hour as the forecast models are starting to agree on a track that heads toward the region.

"Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen", the NHC said.

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The vessels will get underway from Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek to avoid potential damage from winds and tidal surges, said Colonel Rob Manning a Pentagon spokesman. The storm is expected to bring 15 to 30 inches of rain.

In Holden Beach, North Carolina, in the storm's path, longtime residents were boarding up homes and securing possessions.

Forecasters are also tracking two more hurricanes that have formed to the east of Florence: Hurricane Helene, which strengthened to a Category 2 storm off the west coast of Africa today, and Hurricane Isaac, a Category 1 storm now located roughly halfway between Florence and Helene. It could hang over the area with a prolonged rain. Emergency declarations were issued by the governors in both states, as well as in Virginia and Maryland.

In Guam, Typhoon Mangkhut - a Category 4 storm - narrowly missed dealing a direct blow to the island.

Grocery stores began selling out of water, milk and bread, and supply stores were struggling to stock batteries, plywood and generators as early as Sunday. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will coordinate response efforts, according to Trump's order.

"Isaac is a small hurricane and uncertainty in the forecast is higher than normal, NHC Forecaster John Cangialosi said in Monday's forecast discussion".

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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