Hurricane Florence prompts mandatory evacuations

NC rep asks Trump for expedited disaster declaration ahead of Hurricane Florence

Residents scrambled to flee en masse as the menacing Category 4 storm packing winds of 220 kilometers per hour bore down on the East Coast of the United States.

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.

"Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!"

"North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously and you should too", said Governor Cooper.

Florence is forecast to dump up to 40 inches (one meter) of rain in some areas after it makes landfall in North and SC. Forecast models suggest that more than 2 feet of rain could fall over the higher elevations of the Carolinas and Virginia, which would generate risky flooding downstream.

Preparations for Florence were intensifying up and down the densely populated coast.

If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other risky conditions.

SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.

"Don't concentrate on the exact forecast track of Hurricane #Florence".

The National Hurricane Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that Hurricane Florence may lead to a life-threatening storm surge and rainfall.

"This is a real hurricane we have coming", South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday.

Florence grew into a major hurricane on Monday morning and was upgraded again to a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength at midday as its top sustained wind speeds reached 130 miles per hour.

The storm is moving west-northwest at 15 miles per hour.

As of 6 p.m., UNC has not issued a new update concerning Hurricane Florence.

Some tourists and residents were still outside enjoying pleasant weather as forecasters said computer models narrowed the grim target with clearer consensus. And the timing couldn't be more apt: Monday was the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, when storm activity has historically been at its highest.

The hurricane is generating swells that are already affecting Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast.

SAFFO: Well, we just met with the governor.

SC has ordered the mandatory evacuation of its entire coast, and evacuations were also ordered for several North Carolina towns, as Category 4 Hurricane Florence continues her aggressive pursuit towards the states. When Alexander Gerst and Ricky Arnold, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS), attempted to photograph Hurricane Florence, the storm was so big they "could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens", according to Gerst. The storm could soon be on the brink of a Category 5.

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman, Col. Robert Manning said, "Northern Command is spending an advanced team to the emergency operations center in Raleigh, North Carolina Monday to conduct an assessment and coordinate with federal and state partners".

Helene - 475 miles west of the Cape Verde islands off the African coast - had winds up to 105 miles per hour, and was expected to continue moving west-northwest for another couple of days, the NHC said. North Carolina has ordered the evacuation of more than 50,000 people from Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of its Outer Banks barrier islands.

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