Hurricane Florence has strengthened into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm as it closes in on North and SC, carrying wind and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States coast.
Already estimated to bring as much as $27 billion in damages, Florence is aiming for landfall late Thursday or early Friday somewhere between Charleston, South Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia.
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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper expressed concern surrounding the increasing intensity of the storm, and urged residents to make necessary preparations.
Commenting on his decision, Mr McMaster said: "Some schools in the inland counties will be used as shelters, some school buses will be needed to assist in evacuation efforts, and we want to keep the roads as clear as possible for the one million evacuees we are expecting".
In addition to winds, the storm is expected to slow as it moves onto the coast and could deliver 15 to 20 inches of rain, with 30 inches locally, in North Carolina, Virginia and northern SC, the NHC said. If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rain to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other risky conditions.
Hurricane Florence continues to gain strength as she moves across the Atlantic. Tuesday morning's forecast still supports this, the National Hurricane Center said. The state's emergency management agency said it is "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".
Wind gusts topping 100 miles per hour are likely near and just north of where Florence approaches the coast.
Florence intensified to a Category 4 hurricane Monday, with maximum sustained wind speeds measuring around 140 miles per hour.
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"Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday (Sept. 13)", said officials.
"Steady weakening is forecast to begin by late Tuesday", the NHC said. Having grown up in storm-prone Florida, LaRoche said she's careful not to underestimate any hurricane.
Hurricane Florence is barreling toward the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic Coast, likely getting ready to make landfall in one of the Carolinas on Thursday night.
"It's on par with the storms we flew previous year, like Maria and Irma", Kibbey said.
Hurricane Florence has been quickly strengthening Monday and is on route to severely impact the Carolinas at the end of the week. If Florence weakens enough to arrive as a Category 3 storm, it would likely be near the upper limit of that classification. The Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane of 1933 is the only major storm that has tracked along Florence's path and ended up in the Carolinas, according to AccuWeather. SC governor Henry McMaster also suspended his campaign and asked President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration.
At 11 p.m. EDT, the storm's center was located about 465 miles (750 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda and about 1,085 miles (1745 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
Florence's centre was expected to move over the Atlantic Ocean between the Bahamas and Bermuda on Tuesday and Wednesday before approaching North and SC on Thursday.