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article imageCategory 4 Hurricane Florence to hit East Coast later this week

By Karen Graham     Sep 10, 2018 in Environment
Hurricane Florence is now a major Category 3 hurricane and forecasters now say the storm could mount a direct, devastating hit on North and South Carolina as the most powerful storm to hit the area in three decades.
Since the 11:00 a.m. NHC Update came out, in an unusual move, the National Hurricane Center has issued an emergency update that Hurrican Florence is now a very dangerous Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (195 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 946 mb (27.93 inches).
The National Hurricane Center upgraded Florence to a Category 3 storm with its 11:00 a.m. EDT advisory today. Florence is about 580 miles (935 kilometers south-southeast of Bermuda and about 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
Florence has maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) with higher gusts and its present movement is toward the west at 13 mph (20 kph). A west-northwestward motion with an increase in the storm's forward speed is expected during the next couple of days. A turn toward the northwest is forecast to occur late Wednesday night.
The NHC says further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles (45 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 kilometers). The estimated minimum central pressure is 962 MB (28.41 inches).
Landfall expectation for Florence
The National Hurricane Center forecasts Florence to hit the shore late Thursday night or early Friday morning. Ocean swells of up to 15 feet or more are expected when Florence gets up close and personal with the coast, but the storm system is likely to stall when it hits land, dumping up to 20 inches of rain in some inland locations.
A Category 3 or higher is considered a major hurricane and packs winds between 111 and 129 mph. Category 3 storms can inflict "devastating" damage, the hurricane center said. Florence could work its way up to Category 4, with sustained winds of at least 130 mph as it crosses over the warm Atlantic waters, which are registering a very warm 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
"There is an increased 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.
Evacuation Orders in place
In Virginia, mandatory evacuation orders are in place for residents and visitors to Hatteras Island. They must be evacuated by 12 noon today.
Residents and visitors to Dare County were asked to evacuate by 7 a.m. on Sept. 11. The message about the evacuation said "everyone is encouraged to evacuate as soon as possible regardless of established time frames."
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