Hurricane Florence strengthens, churns toward U.S. Southeast coast

Greg Lawrence
September 10, 2018

Florence is now forecast to approach the North Carolina or SC coast by Thursday, although tropical storm-force winds from the system could reach the coast as early as Wednesday.

The NHC predicts it could become a major hurricane by Monday and remain that way through Thursday.

North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have declared states of emergency in preparation for the potential impact of Florence. Carnival Cruise Line is tracking Hurricane Florence to make sure the fleet keeps far away and everyone stays safe during their cruise vacation.

Florence crossed the 74 miles per hour threshold from tropical storm to a hurricane Sunday morning, and by evening its winds were up to 85 miles per hour (140 kph) as the National Hurricane Center warned a hurricane hunter plane found the storm strengthening quickly.

Florence is actually the lone major hurricane of the season so far as it was initially a category 4 hurricane in the open Atlantic before weakening and now restrengthening again.

In Charleston, South Carolina, along the coast, city officials offered sandbags to residents.

Carnival Cruise Line said Sunday that it had changed the schedule of its cruise ships to accommodate tropical weather threats. Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune urged people to secure their homes but said it was too early to know if evacuations will be ordered.

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Cruise lines are redirecting their ships to avoid the path of Hurricane Florence as it begins to bear down on the United States. All university-sponsored events and athletics, including Fall Family and Alumni Weekend (Sept. 14-15), the women's soccer match vs. ECU on Thursday (Sept. 13) and the Hampton Inn Seahawk Invitational women's volleyball tournament (Sept. 14-15) are canceled.

A third tropical storm has formed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

This means the scheduled call in Amber Cove for Carnival Horizon on September 10 is happening on September 9 instead and replacing San Juan. Cooper urged residents to "review your emergency plans and gather your supplies now".

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Sunday that coastal and inland residents alike need to get ready for potentially heavy rainfall and flooding from the storm. The state's emergency management agency said it is "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

Forecasters say Tropical Storm Florence has turned into a hurricane and is swirling toward the East Coast for what could be a direct hit toward the end of the week.

Isaac was about 1305 miles (2100 kilometers) east of the Windward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kmh) late Sunday. It was moving west at 6 miles per hour. "We expect it to be a major hurricane when it makes landfall by Thursday night or early Friday".

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