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Category 4 hurricane Florence maintains strength east of North Carolina: NHC

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Hurricane Florence rapidly formed into a powerful Category 4 storm Monday as it churned towards the U.S. East Coast

With little wind shear to pull the storm apart, Florence's hurricane wind field is expected to expand over the coming days, increasing its storm surge and inland wind threats. "Now's the time to prepare".

Early on Monday Isaac, which the NHC called a small hurricane, was about 1,900km east of the Windward Islands - a region still recovering from 2017's powerful Hurricane Maria - with maximum sustained winds near 120km/h.

The hurricane now has maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour, with hurricane force winds extending up to 40 miles from the eye of the storm.

Announcing his evacuation order, SC governor Henry McMaster said an estimated one million people would be fleeing the coast.

Florence is predicted to make an overnight landfall Friday west of Wilmington, NC.

McMaster said folks should prepare for a lot of flooding in the Pee Dee area.

With Hurricane Florence spinning through the Atlantic Ocean and threatening to slam into SC later this week, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered mandatory evacuations for the state's entire coastline beginning at noon Tuesday. "People are doing a pretty good job now".

There have only been 26 category 4 hurricanes to ever make landfall in the us since 1850.

President Trump met with federal disaster officials at the White House on Tuesday. "We're just a strip of land - we're a barrier island", she said. "This is probably the only exercise I get this week".

Every now and then nature throws out a storm so massive we can only gaze upon it in humbling awe at its fearsome power.

The National Hurricane Center predicts Florence will reach the East Coast as early as Wednesday night, and its winds are nearing 140 miles per hour. Two other storms also are churning in the Atlantic. "If the track brings higher rainfall amounts that axis of rain farther south and into our area". And of course people are taking this storm very seriously.

On Tuesday afternoon, data from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft showed that Florence's sustained winds had picked up in speed again, hovering close to 140 miles per hour.

In the Atlantic basin, forecasters have issued tropical storm warnings for Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac.

If the high remains strong, Florence will take a slower turn to the northwest and be guided onshore over North or SC.

Floodwaters could also spread mercury-containing coal ash that's held in pits operated by Duke Energy, the state's main electricity company, the AP reported.

It is then forecast to close in on North or SC on Thursday, hitting a stretch of coastline that is vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change. SC governor Henry McMaster also suspended his campaign and asked President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration.

American said its integrated operations center in Fort Worth continues to closely monitor the track of these storms and so far, the airline has not cancelled any flights.

As of 6 p.m., UNC has not issued a new update concerning Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Florence is now at a Category 4.

"Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls".

However, since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, USA power plants have installed more safety equipment, such as waterproofing, portable pumps and generators, Duke Energy spokeswoman Mary Kathryn Green told Reuters. "Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes". Power outages will last weeks to possibly months.

The storm is moving west-northwest at 15 miles per hour.

About an hour after the Category 3 upgrade came another - to Category 4.

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 all the way into the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other risky conditions in places that don't usually get much tropical weather.

Perhaps the worst-case scenario for flight schedules is if Florence stalls after moving on shore while blocking the busy flight routes along the Atlantic coast.

A storm surge watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC, and for north of Duck, NC, to the North Carolina/Virginia border.

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