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Hurricane Florence takes aim at East coast

Hurricane Florence is expected to strengthen as it moves through the Atlantic Ocean and is on track to likely hit the East Coast of the US this week.

Posted: Sep 11, 2018 11:37 AM
Updated: Sep 11, 2018 11:57 AM

Hurricane Florence has its sights set on North and South Carolina, and if it hits as hard as predicted, the storm will be the most powerful to pound the area in three decades, CNN weather anchor Chad Myers said Monday morning.

"This storm gets stronger and stronger" and is on its way to a head-on impact on the Carolinas later this week, Myers said.

Water up to 15 feet high will strike the coast, and rainfall inland over the next four to five days could reach 20 inches in some locations, he said.

Florence was about 625 miles southeast of Bermuda as of 5 a.m. ET on Monday. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and was moving west-northwest at about 9 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

The center of the hurricane was forecast to move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the southeastern coast of the US on Thursday as a Category 3 storm or higher, according to the hurricane center.

"Rapid strengthening is forecast, and Florence is forecast to become a major hurricane this morning, and is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday," the hurricane center said Monday.

"There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland, and damaging hurricane-force winds," the hurricane center said. It warned people at the coast and inland from South Carolina into the mid-Atlantic region to closely monitor the storm's progress and ensure they had their hurricane plan in place.

Large swells generated by Florence are already affecting Bermuda and portions of the East Coast and will continue this week.

"These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip currents," the hurricane center said.

East Coast track

CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen said Sunday that computer models agree Florence is on track to make landfall in the Carolinas.

It would be the first Category 3 or higher storm to hit the East Coast since Hurricane Jeanne struck Florida in 2004.

Track the storm and compare different forecast models

Most computer models predict Florence will slow down as it moves inland, Hennen said, which could add to the heavy rains and potential flooding.

Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina already are on alert. Their governors declared states of emergency Friday and Saturday.

"We are preparing for the worst, and of course hoping for the best," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said, adding that his declaration would allow state agencies to deploy assets quickly to the coast.

McMaster said Sunday that he has asked President Trump for a federal disaster declaration. That would make state and local agencies eligible for FEMA reimbursement of some costs.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper waived certain transportation restrictions so that farmers could harvest and move crops more quickly.

Cooper also urged people to learn what evacuation routes to take, and put fuel in their vehicles in case they're ordered to leave.

"Action today can avoid losses due to Florence," he said.

Lines forming at grocery stores

Crowds of shoppers formed at supermarkets on Sunday, as people tried to stock up on supplies before the storm.

"Checkout lines @Costco in Charleston running all the way to the back of the store. Hurricane #florence for the win! #chswx," tweeted Michael Livingston. "Wait was about 20 min - long but fast-moving. Prep is usual: foodstocks, fuel, cash, batteries, clean-up of property for high winds. Might buy a new board game or two. :)"

Erin Byrd checked in online from Publix in Apex, North Carolina.

"Water supplies being depleted ... Bread and milk supplies still robust," she posted on Instagram.

"We don't panic, which is why we are amused that water was so depleted a week out. We still have water supply from last year here," she told CNN.

Alicia Buchanan posted on Instagram from Walmart in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

She just moved to the area two weeks ago from Northern Virginia and still doesn't have her furniture.

"So, I'm prepping with some bottled water, a couple puzzle books, and making sure all my electronics and back-up batteries are charged," she told CNN. "I plan to do most of my cooking on the grill."

Ships out to sea

The US Navy said Saturday that it may be necessary to send ships in the Norfolk, Virginia, area out to sea because of the coming storm. The Navy put them on Sortie Condition Bravo -- which means the onset of destructive weather is expected within 48 hours.

In a news release, the Navy said the ships can handle destructive weather better while at sea and that "having the ships underway also makes them ready and available to respond to any national tasking, including any needed disaster response efforts in the local area after the storm has passed."

Peak season

Preparations for Hurricane Florence come as the Atlantic hurricane season hits its peak. Two other storms also are churning in the Atlantic.

Hurricane Helene and Hurricane Isaac are not expected to hit the US mainland.

Monday is the climatological peak date of hurricane season, the height of the eight-week period when the most powerful storms usually form, CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said.

Fast Facts: 2018 Atlantic hurricane season

The Atlantic hurricane season officially began June 1, but cooler water and higher wind shear -- winds moving at different speeds and directions -- early in the season are less than ideal for tropical systems to gain and maintain strength.

Storms increase in frequency and intensity by mid-August and into September as temperatures in the Atlantic climb to their highest levels, Javaheri said.

"Take mid-August to mid-October, that period accounts for 87% of category 1 and 2 hurricane days and a staggering 96% of 'major' hurricane days -- (Categories 3, 4 and 5)," he said. "By late October, wind shear once again increases and the cooler autumn air filters farther south, allowing waters to begin their inevitable cooling process."

CNN meteorologist Gene Norman compared the conditions to boiling water on a stove, with the water taking a while to react to an increase and then decrease in the temperature of the element beneath it.

"Even though the season starts in June, the Earth is just beginning to warm up from the summer sun. By mid/late August, temperatures near their peak, like that pot on the stove starting to boil," he said.

"However, just as it takes a while to heat the ocean, it also takes a while for the latent heat stored there to dissipate, like that pot on the stove. This is why there can be strong storms lingering into October."

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 793065

Reported Deaths: 15189
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2621336401
Riverside574821172
San Bernardino52873908
Orange523821150
San Diego45147765
Kern31572354
Fresno27843362
Sacramento21628383
Alameda20748390
Santa Clara20587299
San Joaquin20019421
Stanislaus16398339
Contra Costa16056201
Tulare15687256
Ventura12477146
Imperial11606314
San Francisco1086599
San Mateo9625144
Monterey956869
Santa Barbara8930110
Merced8820137
Kings753477
Sonoma7160120
Marin6613113
Solano619457
Madera442465
Placer350742
San Luis Obispo343827
Butte276940
Yolo276554
Santa Cruz22768
Sutter167910
Napa164113
San Benito131211
Yuba11307
El Dorado10744
Mendocino87518
Lassen7350
Shasta72414
Glenn5633
Nevada5246
Colusa5196
Tehama5134
Lake51211
Humboldt4896
Calaveras31114
Amador28616
Tuolumne2264
Inyo18714
Mono1652
Siskiyou1630
Del Norte1381
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc250
Trinity150
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Alpine20
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Mild temperatures, breezy south winds, and improved air quality are ahead for your Wednesday. Coastal showers will be possible on Thursday, and then hot temperatures and high fire danger return for your weekend.
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