A state of emergency has been sounded in Virginia and North and South Carolina as Florence, a Category 1 hurricane which is turning into a dangerous storm, is expected to make landfall this week in the southeastern coast of the United States, the US National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory on Sunday.
While forecasters said it is too early to predict the hurricane’s path, it warned that it could roll ashore in the Carolinas by Thursday.
Here is everything you need to know about the tropical storm:
Origin of Hurricane Florence
Located about 750 miles (1,200 km) southeast of Bermuda, a Miami-based weather forecaster said Florence hurricane was packing maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 km per hour).
Here are the key messages on Hurricane #Florence as of 11 pm EDT. Florence is expected to become a major hurricane on Monday, and there is an increasing risk of coastal storm surge flooding and freshwater flooding from heavy prolonged rain when the hurricane approaches the U.S. pic.twitter.com/tlVK4wDPtK
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 10, 2018
Where is the storm headed?
According to the US National Hurricane Center, Florence is expected to strengthen further as it is ready to move over the southwestern Atlantic between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday. It added that the hurricane should approach the US coast by Thursday.
How intense will the hurricane be?
Considered extremely dangerous and powerful, forecasters warned that Florence could bring with it an increased risk of two life-threatening impacts: storm surge along the coast and freshwater flooding from prolonged rains, the hurricane centre said.
The National Weather Center cautioned against dangerous rip currents in popular tourist areas like Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks. Advisories warning of dangerous beach conditions or coastal flooding were in effect for parts of New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
As of 8 p.m. Sunday, SCEMD has:
Ordered 125 buses to be staged in Orangeburg to deploy if needed.
Prepositioned personnel, equipment and other commodities should they be needed.
Deployed regional emergency managers to assist coastal county agencies.#Florence #scwx #sctweets
— SCEMD (@SCEMD) September 10, 2018
Authorities on standby
Authorities in the Carolinas have warned residents to prepare for a potential disaster. In a statement on Sunday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said that coastal and inland residents alike need to get ready for potentially heavy rainfall and flooding from the storm. He also urged residents to “review your emergency plans and gather your supplies now”. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has urged its students to leave campus for a safer location.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division, on the other hand, took to Twitter to announce that officials are “preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster”. Charleston city officials are offering sandbags for residents to fill. Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune urged residents to secure their homes but said it’s too early to know if evacuations will be ordered.
Volunteers whipped together 525 bags of food for disaster relief this afternoon! 💪🏽Thank you to @PalmettoHealth and our HHFB board members for giving up part of your Sunday afternoon! MORE packing Monday. JOIN US! #WeAreReady #HurricaneFlorence #SCStrong #TeamSC pic.twitter.com/lA5AKgkEv7
— Harvest Hope (@HarvestHopeFB) September 9, 2018
In Virginia, the Naval Station Norfolk has asked its employees to not leave their vehicles parked at the sprawling Virginia base in coming days in the wake of possible flooding from the approaching Hurricane. In a Facebook post, the largest naval complex in the world said that much of the base is prone to heavy flooding, especially the parking lots adjacent to the waterfront. It also posted photos showing heavy flooding from previous storms.
Cruise lines are redirecting their ships to avoid the path of the major hurricane.
Forecasters track two more hurricanes
Meanwhile, forecasters were also tracking two more storms further out in the Atlantic on Sunday. Tropical Storm Isaac, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) and about 1,500 miles east of the Windward Islands, tracked south of Puerto Rico as it strengthened into a hurricane.
A third storm, Helene, off the Cabo Verde Islands was also expected to become a hurricane later in the day but did not appear to pose an immediate threat to land.