Florence still a category 4, further strengthening possible

The storm threatened to hit coastal North and SC with 215km/h winds and massive waves when it makes landfall on Friday, and its rains will take a heavy toll for miles inland, the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned.

Though the NHC can't pinpoint with certainty the exact location and magnitude of the impacts, they said, "interests at the coast and inland from SC into the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the progress of Florence, ensure they have their hurricane plan in place, and follow any advice given by local officials".

The slow-moving storm, the most severe hurricane to threaten the US mainland this year, was rated a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and located about 845 miles (1,360 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, at 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT), according to the NHC.

The State of Emergency Response Team, which includes the Emergency Management, State Highway Patrol and North Carolina National Guard, are ready to deploy.

The northern coast of SC and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are likely to be the areas most impacted by the storm, which could cause $15.3 billion in damage, said Chuck Watson, a disaster researcher at Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he had asked President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration ahead of the storm. Landfall somewhere along the Carolinas has now become more likely, where the threat for life-threating storm surge and inland flooding has increased.

"While it's still too early to know the storm's path, we know we have to be prepared", he said in a written statement. Hurricane Isaac was expected to lose strength as it reaches the Caribbean, and Helene, much farther out to sea, may veer northward into the open ocean as the 2018 hurricane season reaches its peak. "Due to these conditions, Superintendent David Hallac is strongly urging all beach visitors to stay out of the Atlantic Ocean until risky conditions subside".

"If it decides to come here, we're gone", he said.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says Hurricane Helene is now located about 375 miles west of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands.

NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center/Handout via REUTERSHurricane Florence seen over the Atlantic Ocean, about 750 miles southeast of Bermuda, on September 9.

Lining up behind Florence, Isaac was about 1,150 miles (1,855 kilometers) east of the Windward Islands with top winds of 75 mph (120 kph) early Monday, moving west at 14 mph (22 kph).

The counter-clockwise rotation of hurricanes means more damage to the storm's upper right quadrant, viewing it from above, but less impact to the lower left side.

The U.S. Navy said it was sending almost 30 ships from coastal Virginia out of port to ride out the storm. Most of the state of Hawaii was under either a tropical storm warning or watch on Monday morning, as Hurricane Olivia bears westward, with 85 miles per hour winds.

For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge: If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other risky conditions.

As of 11 p.m., the National Hurricane Center said the storm was about 1,085 miles east-southeast of Bald Head Island.

He said: "It's pushing its way forward, but Thursday morning it is just off the coast".

Tropical storm force winds could begin along the coast Wednesday evening and have the potential to impact the Triangle.

  • Joey Payne