With sustained winds howling at almost 220km per hour, Florence was upgraded to a Category 4 by the National Hurricane Center yesterday, as the tempest churned about 965 kilometres southeast of Bermuda and headed toward the East Coast.
As of 5 a.m. ET Monday, Hurricane Florence's center was about 625 miles southeast of Bermuda and was moving west-northwest at a speed of 9 mph. One, Hurricane Florence, is already cause 85-mph winds expected to become an "extremely dangerous" major hurricane. The storm quickly intensified to a major hurricane late Monday morning and is now a very unsafe category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour.
Once it makes landfall, Florence is predicted to stall and remain over North Carolina for at least 24 hours - increasing the threat of unsafe flooding, NHC director Ken Graham said on Monday.
Hurricanes Isaac, which could hit Caribbean islands, and Helene, much farther out to sea, lined up behind Florence as the 2018 Atlantic season reached its peak. Packing heavy winds with a maximum sustained wind speed of 130 miles per hour (195 km/h), the hurricane is slowly barreling toward the U.S. East Coast, at a speed of approximately 13 miles per hour (20 km/h).
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Even the Navy was steeling for impact as the US Fleet Forces Command ordered all ships moored in the area to move farther out to the open Atlantic, away from Florence's path.
"I'm telling them to go inland, but I'm anxious about the rain and tornadoes too", Mr Roberts said.
In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Olivia is set to sweep through the Hawaiian islands Tuesday, where tropical storm watches have been posted.
Florence is now a category 4 hurricane.
Storm surge and freshwater flooding from rainfall could become life-threatening risks, especially from SC through the mid-Atlantic.
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"This is a very unsafe hurricane", McMaster said, adding that the evacuation order for coastal counties was "mandatory, not voluntary". Information on the storm-tide sensor deployment and the incoming data will be available on the USGS "Flood Event Viewer" at https://stn.wim.usgs.gov/FEV/#FlorenceSep2018. "We just happen to be right in the middle".
The Associated Press reports Governor McMaster saying "storm surge could reach as high as 10 feet" and estimated that 1 million residents would evacuate from coastal areas. They urged residents to prepare - a request that ranges from fortifying homes and gathering supplies to preparing for possible evacuation orders.
Experts have forecast the upgraded tropical storm will gather force - going from a category 1 hurricane to a category 3 on Monday morning.
Immediately to the north of Virginia, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said his state was also "preparing for the potential of historic, catastrophic and life-threatening flooding".
Hurricane Florence Expected to Become Major Hurricane Very Soon
Forecasters said Florence was expected to become an extremely unsafe major hurricane sometime Monday and remain that way for days. That means sustained winds of at least 130 miles per hour and expectations of catastrophic damage, the hurricane center says.
Delta said on Sunday that it's "keeping an eye" on the storm, though the Atlanta-based company did not say if or when it might issue its own waivers.