Hurricane Florence: over 1m ordered to evacuate in SC and Virginia

Mandatory evacuations issued for Outer Banks ahead of Florence

The hurricane, which strengthened to a Category 4 on Monday, is expected to intensify as it approaches the Carolinas, said John Quagliariello with the National Weather Service.

The hurricane has already reached category 4, with winds up to 130 miles per hour.

It's not just North Carolina that is "taking Hurricane Florence seriously", either, in SC and Virginia residents have also declared states of emergency following the updates on the storm.

"North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously and you should too", said Governor Cooper.

According to the NHC advisory, Hurricane Florence is now located 575 miles (925 km) south-southeast of Bermuda and 1,230 miles (1,985 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.

The alerts also mean unsafe storm surges are likely along the coast and heavy, sustained rains could cause life-threatening flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned.

If it makes landfall as predicted, Florence could become the northern-most Category 4 hurricane to hit the USA since records were first kept in 1851.

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North Carolina ordered evacuations for the Outer Banks barrier islands, including popular tourist destination Hatteras Island. Tropical storm conditions could hit those areas by Thursday morning, forecasters say. "The threat will be inland, so I'm afraid, based on my experience at FEMA, that the public is probably not as prepared as everybody would like", said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Virginia, North Carolina, and SC have all declared states of emergency.

"After 48 hours, a slight increase in southwesterly shear could result in some weakening, but Florence is expected to remain an extremely unsafe hurricane when it approaches the USA coastline".

Florence stands a significant chance of joining 2017's Harvey and Irma as just the third storm to make landfall on the United States mainland at category 4 strength (or higher) since 2005. Georgia, West Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware, New Jersey, southern Pennsylvania, and eastern Tennessee, Kentucky, and OH could also see strong winds.

The strengthening storm could be one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the Eastern Seaboard in decades, potentially carrying winds of up to 155 miles per hour. "We know we can't play around with this", said Jennifer Oosterwyk, who owns the Sugar Britches boutique on Holden Beach and lives in nearby Wilmington. Similar evacuations are happening all the way up to Virginia, where the governor has ordered a mandatory evacuation for residents of some low-lying coastal areas.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster evoked the memory of 1989's Hurricane Hugo, which killed 27 people in the state, in urging people to obey his evacuation order. "Everyone in Virginia needs to prepare".

Hurricane Florence - which formed as a tropical depression in the Atlantic Ocean on August 31 - is now a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which measures hurricane strength from 1 to 5.

Two other storms were spinning in the Atlantic as the 2018 hurricane season reaches its peak.

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