Residents of the Carolinas and Virginia are bracing for Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale that is expected to become even more powerful and dangerous by the time it makes landfall on the U.S.’s eastern seaboard some time on Thursday.
If the storm’s strength is sustained, it would be the strongest storm to hit the region since Hurricane Hugo 29 years ago. The population of the Carolinas has grown by about five million people since then.
The National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast shows Florence about 925 miles southeast of North Carolina’s Cape Fear as of Wednesday morning. Florence is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to parts of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states, according to the NHC’s latest advisory.
Mandatory evacuations began at noon Tuesday across the coast in South Carolina, the state’s governor, Henry McMaster, said. He expects about a million people to flee the coast, and said authorities will reverse lanes on major roadways to handle the traffic.
“This storm is too powerful and its path is too uncertain to take any chances,” McMaster said in a statement.
Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 20 inches—with up to 30 inches possible in isolated locations—over portions of North Carolina, Virginia and northern South Carolina through Saturday, the hurricane center said early Tuesday. “This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding,” the hurricane center said.
“Strengthening is forecast through tonight,” said the advisory. “While some weakening is expected on Thursday, Florence is forecast to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it nears the U.S. coast.”
People should focus more on the threat from water than wind, Dennis Feltgen, a hurricane center spokesman told The Wall Street Journal.
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Florence has two other hurricanes churning behind it, raising concerns about a repeat of 2017’s record-setting season, when storms named Harvey, Irma and Maria caused more than $200 billion of losses, according to reinsurer Munich Re.
Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Helene are still too far away to accurately predict their paths. Helene is weakening and is expected to be a tropical storm when by Thursday. Isaac is also a little weaker as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles, said the advisory.
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The Atlantic was not the only region experiencing storm conditions. The hurricane named Olivia has been downgraded to a tropical storm and was moving about 215 east-northeast of Honolulu, with maximum sustained winds of close to 45 miles an hour.
“Some weakening is forecast during the next 48 hour, but Olivia is expected to remain a tropical storm for the next day or so,” said the NHC. The storm is bad news for a state still cleaning up after Hurricane Lane caused massive rainfall, flooding and landslides in August.
Tropical storm Paul has been downgraded to a tropical depression and was last located about 1,000 miles west of the southern tip of Baja California, according to another advisory.
As the chart illustrates, Hurricane Katrina, the storm that devastated New Orleans in 2005, remains the costliest ever for the U.S.
But 2017’s trio of hurricanes combined to create a record season. Hurricane Harvey caused the most damage in Texas, where it poured more than 30 inches of rain on 6.9 million people, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, where its cost, both human and to property, is still being calculated.
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View more information: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/carolinas-and-virginia-brace-for-hurricane-florence-as-two-more-major-storms-loom-2018-09-10