Florence Slows, Weakens Over Islands; Still Major Hurricane

Hurricane Florence: What you need to know to stay safe

Florence is "rapidly strengthening", with maximum sustained winds increasing to 170km/h, making it a category 2 storm, the second-weakest on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.

Mandatory coastal evacuations were in effect for civilians in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, but the military base posted on Facebook that different chains-of-command would decide whether to release non-essential personnel, and some relatives vented fears that they wouldn't be able to evacuate in time.

The 1st effects were already being seen on barrier islands Monday as risky rip currents and seawater flowed over the state highway.

More than one million people in the United States have been asked to evacuate ahead of what could potentially be one of the most catastrophic storms to hit the country's East Coast region in decades.

If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rain to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions.

As a result, Florence "is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", Sept. 13, said the NHC.

The office of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam predicted "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages". "When you stall a system like this and it moves real slow, some of that rainfall can extend well away from the centre".

On Monday Florence had strengthened into a category 4 hurricane.

Senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart warns that Florence being a slow hurricane could mean three to four hours of battering, beach-eroding winds for some areas.

The National Hurricane Center is offering that warning on Tuesday morning as hurricane watches and storm surge watches were issued for the coasts of North Carolina and SC for the first time.

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind-Members of Indiana's Task Force One are headed down to the Tar Heel state, as residents there prepare for Hurricane Florence to make landfall.

States of emergency were declared by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser for the nation's capital; requested by Virginia's governor; and approved by US President Donald Trump for North and SC.

Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.

Florence, packing winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kph), was expected to grow even stronger before making landfall on Thursday, mostly likely in southeastern North Carolina near the SC border, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Olivia triggered warnings for multiple Hawaiian islands as it blew west towards an arrival over the state as soon as late Tuesday or early Wednesday. He said that the hurricane could only be captured on a super-wide lens, even from 400 kilometres up.

Florence is the most risky of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune urged people to secure their homes but said it was too early to know if evacuations will be ordered.

The head of Duke Energy Corp.'s North Carolina operations says it could take weeks to restore electricity if the company's prediction that 1 million to 3 million of its 4 million customers lose power.

"The time to hope Hurricane Florence away is gone", he said.

"Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of South Carolina and is going to go way inshore", South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said. "There is no way to be completely safe", but going inland might not be much safer.

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