Hurricane Florence, now a Category 4 beast, prompts 3 states to order 1.5 million evacuations

Hurricane Florence
(Image credit: NASA via Getty Images)

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.

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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."

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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.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.