On Monday, state and local officials in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia ordered about 1.5 million residents to evacuate coastal areas as Hurricane Florence strengthened to a Category 4 storm, expected to make landfall Thursday somewhere close to the border between North and South Carolina. Florence could cause a "life-threatening storm surge" along the coast and "life-threatening freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall" up to 100 miles inland, the National Hurricane Center warns. The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland have declared states of emergency.
Hurricane #Florence is not just a threat to the coast. Very heavy, prolonged rainfall is expected over a large portion of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic. Here is the latest 7 day rainfall forecast from @NWSWPC. pic.twitter.com/HVMCOMDQIr
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 10, 2018
Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, warned Monday that on top of the dangerous winds, Florence looks like it will stall over the Carolinas, dumping up to a foot of rain far inland and causing power outages, mudslides, and other hazards. "The storm's potential path also includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons," The Associated Press reports.
"We encourage anyone in the path of these storms to prepare themselves and to heed the warnings of state and local officials," President Trump tweeted Monday evening. "The federal government is closely monitoring and ready to assist."
#Florence is now a powerful Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. #GOESEast captured this close-up of the storm's eye as it continues tracking toward the southeastern U.S. Latest: https://t.co/vziaU0pOhE pic.twitter.com/SvHPKYGZsC
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 10, 2018
Two other named hurricanes, Isaac and Helene, have already formed in the Atlantic, though neither is forecast to cause much damage, and in the Pacific, Hurricane Olivia is heading toward Hawaii, hitting late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Peter Weber