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Strengthening Hurricane Florence takes aim at U.S. Southeast
11 September 2018, 01:26 | Justin Tyler
The National Hurricane Centerclassified tropical storm Florence as a Category 1 hurricane, Sunday, warning that it would rapidly intensify into a major hurricane by Monday and could make the Thursday landfall as a Category 4 "extremely unsafe major hurricane".
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say Florence rapidly intensified Monday morning to a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour (195 kph).
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe storm by the time it nears the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday.
The other storms Tropical Storm Isaac and Tropical Storm Helene are both expected to become hurricanes Sunday or Monday. The Category 4 storm is expected to make landfall sometime Thursday or Friday, bringing major impacts to North and SC including the potential for heavy rain.
Tropical Storm Florence was upgraded to a hurricane on Sunday morning by the National Hurricane Center.
The storm's center was on track to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Wednesday, the NHC said.
U.S. President Donald Trump, whose administration was criticized as being slow to respond to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico previous year, canceled a political rally planned for Friday in Jackson, Mississippi, over safety concerns related to Florence, his campaign said. Storm surge and freshwater flooding from rainfall could become life-threatening risks, especially from SC through the mid-Atlantic.
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.
The National Hurricane Center announced Sunday morning that Florence escalated into a hurricane with winds reaching 75mph as it swirls across the Atlantic.
A storm would normally weaken considerably if it stalled on the coast, by choking off its own energy supply as it churned over its own wake, Watson said.
The late Monday night update shows the model tracks shifting slightly north up North Carolina where it's expected to take aim at the southeastern coast.
Olivia is expected to move west through Monday before turning west-southwest late Monday and early Tuesday local time.
The hurricane center's description of a Category 4 hurricane begins with "catastrophic damage will occur". It is now 1,305 miles east of the Windward Islands, which are in the West Indies, and moving westward at 14 mph.
Not only has the storm exploded in intensity, but its zone of hurricane-force winds approximately doubled in size Monday. Hurricane Hazel came ashore at the South Carolina-North Carolina state line with winds of 130 miles per hour (209 kph) in 1954.
Hurricane Florence is aiming for a region of the U.S. East Coast that is especially vulnerable to storm surge and flooding from heavy rains. Since reliable record-keeping began more than 150 years ago, North Carolina has only been hit by one Category 4 hurricane: Hazel, with 130 miles per hour winds in 1954. It was moving west at 10 km/h.
At 5 a, m., the center of Tropical Storm Isaac was located near latitude 14.6 North, longitude 48.1 West.
The storm's first effects were already apparent on barrier islands as risky rip currents hit beaches and seawater flowed over a state highway.
Isaac is moving toward the west near 14 miles per hour. Isaac's forward movement was accelerating on a path to cross into the lower Caribbean on Thursday. Florence has been moving more toward the west and slightly northwest, potentially making direct landfall coming in from the east. Weakening is forecast to begin by the middle of the week.
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