'Potentially deadly' Hurricane Florence sets its sights on Carolinas

'Potentially deadly' Hurricane Florence sets its sights on Carolinas

Since reliable record-keeping began more than 150 years ago, North Carolina has been hit by only one Category 4 hurricane: Hazel, with 130 miles per hour winds, in 1954.

"There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland, and damaging hurricane-force winds", the National Hurricane Center said in an update on Florence's progress at 5 a.m. Monday.

Coastal areas are likely to experience storm surges and the hurricane may dump heavy rains across the entire mid-Atlantic region, causing risky floods.

Maps of the storm's trajectory show it is most likely to make landfall between northern SC and North Carolina's Outer Banks on Thursday, making it the most powerful storm to strike the Carolinas in almost three decades.

Hurricane Florence is expected to bring potentially catastrophic winds, flooding and storm surge.

"This is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years", President Donald Trump warned on Twitter.

At least 250,000 more people were due to be evacuated from the northern Outer Banks in North Carolina on Tuesday after more than 50,000 people were ordered on Monday to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of the state's barrier islands.

Historically, 90 per cent of fatalities from hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions have been caused by water, NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland have all declared a state of emergency and told residents to prepare for flooding and power outages. It's then forecast to close in on North or SC on Thursday, hitting a stretch of coastline that's vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change.

At a press conference on Monday, Cooper called his state the "bullseye" for Hurricane Florence, saying they are "bracing for a hard hit".

Henry McMaster (R) on Monday ordered a mandatory evacuation of the state's coastline ahead of Hurricane Florence's expected arrival on Thursday.

Florence could be only the second Category 4 storm to pummel the Carolinas since 1800, when record-keeping began.

In Holden Beach, North Carolina, in the storm's path, longtime residents were boarding up homes and securing possessions.

The center says the storm is moving west-northwest at 15 miles per hour, and has maximum sustained winds of about 140 miles per hour.

The Atlantic hurricane season that usually starts in June, has now peaks on September 10.

"They cancelled school for the rest of the week here, so we'll probably head out later today or tomorrow", one man said.

The US Navy said it was sending almost 30 ships from coastal Virginia out of port to ride out the storm.

Category 4 hurricane winds are in the 130 to 156 mile range, according to the National Hurricane Center.

She said her house, built in 2009 in Buxton, North Carolina, is on a ridge and built to withstand a hurricane.

Two tropical storms are following behind it: Isaac and Helene.

As the atmosphere warms, the air can hold more moisture, which allows storms to become stronger and produce more devastating rainfall.

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