The Hurricane Florence forecast has gone from bad to worse

NC State–WVU in flux as Hurricane Florence looms

NC State–WVU in flux as Hurricane Florence looms

Florence exploded into a potentially catastrophic hurricane Monday as it closed in on North and SC, carrying winds up to 140 miles per hour (220 kph) and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States later this week.

The storm is moving to west northwest at 15 miles per hour. It will then slow considerably while strengthening off the US coast, and produce extremely unsafe conditions in its path. Water temperatures are running in the middle 80s and very little wind to tear it apart.

The storm, a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, was expected to grow stronger and larger over the next few days, the NHC said.

North Carolina Governor Ray Cooper said yesterday: "This storm is a monster".

"It's possible it could be even higher than that depending on how quickly the storm moves to the coast, but we're kind of expecting it to slow down as it moves to the coast and would probably cut down the storm surge", AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski says.

Catastrophic floods could follow if the storm stalls inland, it said.

While there remains some uncertainty around Hurricane Florence's exact path, one thing does seem certain: it will dump potentially historic rainfall amounts.

More than a million people are expected to flee low-lying areas, as SC and Virginia ordered mandatory evacuations of coastal areas starting on Tuesday.

"Florence is intensifying", said North Carolina's Governor Roy Cooper, adding: "This storm is strong, and its gettings stronger". Governors in North and SC have declared states of emergency, and President Donald Trump has authorized federal funding and resources to assist with preparation for the storm. Computer models predict more than 3 feet of rain in the eastern part of the state, a fertile low-lying plain veined by brackish rivers with a propensity for escaping their banks.

"It's surreal to think we may have nothing to go home to", she said.

Hurricane conditions are expected to reach the Carolinas on Friday, says the National Hurricane Center, but tropical force winds are expected to show up late Wednesday or Thursday morning.

"Once you leave, hard to get back in to check on damage", he said.

"We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst", Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said, noting that Florence could cause catastrophic flooding in his state.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned that Florence is expected to linger once onshore, downing trees, knocking out electricity and causing widespread flooding.

"You never know, there could be tree missiles coming from any direction", she said.

Anywhere from 2 to 6 feet of storm surge may occur in other areas - as far south as Charleston, South Carolina and as far north as the Virginia coast.

Two other storms were spinning in the Atlantic.

Florence's projected path includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in huge lagoons. "Florence has rapidly intensified into an extremely risky hurricane", Blake wrote Monday evening that top sustained winds would approach the 157 miles per hour (253 kph) threshold for a worst-case Category 5 scenario.

In Virginia, mandatory evacuations began Tuesday for about 245,000 residents in a portion of the Eastern Shore area.

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