President Donald Trump late yesterday approved an emergency declaration for North Carolina as ‘life-threatening’ Hurricane Florence barrels toward the Carolinas and is expected to strengthen to a Category 5 storm.
The president’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts for “the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population,” a White House statement said.
State and local officials in the Carolinas and Virginia have ordered around 1.5 million people to evacuate.
The hurricane had sustained winds of 140 mph and remained a Category 4 storm Monday. Scientists warn, however, that the unusually warm water could accelerate the storm’s winds to 155 mph — nearly Category 5 intensity.
Florence is expected to make landfall on Thursday and could become one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the Eastern Seaboard in decades.
“Life-threatening freshwater flooding is likely from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event,” the National Weather Service said in an advisory.
The hurricane is also forecast to hit a stretch of coastline that’s vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered the state’s entire coastline to be evacuated starting at noon Tuesday and predicted that 1 million people would flee.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued an evacuation order that applies to about 245,000 people.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said his state was “in the bullseye” of the storm and urged people to “get ready now.”
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan also declared a state of emergency, as officials “are preparing for any possible outcome, including the potential of historic, catastrophic, and life-threatening flooding in Maryland.”
Several meteorologists said Florence could do what Hurricane Harvey did last year over Texas, dumping days of rain, although not likely not as bad.
“I think this is very Harvey-esque,” said Brian McNoldy, University of Miami hurricane expert. “Normally, a landfalling tropical cyclone just keeps on going inland, gradually dissipating and raining itself out. But on rare occasions, the steering patterns can line up such that a storm slips into a dead zone between troughs and ridges.”
POINTS OF FLORENCE
- Mandatory evacuations of all coastal counties in South Carolina including Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Charleston will begin at noon today (September 11, 2018)
- Other evacuations of the North Carolina coast will also go into play in preparation for the arrival of Florence.
- As of 8 a.m. eastern this morning, Florence has decreased in strength to 130 mile per hour winds but strengthening will take place today. Florence could very well reach maximum strength of a Category 5 hurricane this afternoon.
- If you have friends or family in this area that Florence is expected to hit, they are encouraged to heed the evacuation order. If they live just outside of the evacuation zone, they still may want to strongly consider leaving.