Hurricane Florence grows to Category 4; evacuations ordered

Three storms — Florence Isaac and Helene — were moving across the Atlantic early Sunday

Hurricane Florence is expected to grow into an "extremely dangerous" hurricane by Monday as it approaches the US East Coast, the National Hurricane Center said, urging residents to make preparations. The storm has rapidly intensified and reached "major hurricane" classification on Monday morning (with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, making it a Category 4), although eyes are also on Isaac and Helene for the future. These swells will result in life-threatening surf and rip currents. "Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday".

Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered mandatory evacuations for all coastal SC counties starting at noon on Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Florence's projected landfall.

"We do not know what the chances are that it will hit us or if so, what kind of blow or where and we don't know precisely when", said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster".

"We are not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina", McMaster said.

A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, Florence was 575 miles (925 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda and the center of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory.

Courtesy @astro_ricky/NASA/Handout via REUTERSA photo taken from the International Space Station by astronaut Ricky Arnold shows Hurricane Florence over the Atlantic Ocean on early September 6. "If slows after landfall may cause heavier rain & winds".

By 11 p.m. Sunday, Florence was moving across the Atlantic Ocean at about 7 miles per hour, and it was almost a Category 2 hurricane, with peak winds of 90 miles per hour.

"We expect a rapid intensification of Florence tomorrow", Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center, said on Sunday.

Storm surge and hurricane watches may be issued Tuesday morning for portions of southeastern USA states, the NHC said.

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In North Carolina, officials already had ordered some 250,000 residents and visitors to begin evacuating the Outer Banks barrier islands.

The US military said it was sending an advanced team to Raleigh, North Carolina, to coordinate with federal and state partners and that about 750 military personnel will be set aside to provide support.

Alicia Buchanan posted on Instagram from Walmart in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia have all declared states of emergency.

"I need my stuff for [my] grandbabies - baby food and snacks", she said.

Here is a look at the earliest arrival time of tropical storm force winds.

In Guam, Typhoon Mangkhut - a Category 4 storm - narrowly missed dealing a direct blow to the island.

The overall track remains consistent with a potential landfall from Wilmington, North Carolina to Nags Head, North Carolina.

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