Hurricane Florence, the most powerful storm to menace the Carolina coast in almost three decades, intensified into a Category 4 hurricane on Monday, prompting evacuations of more than 1 million people to higher ground.
It said Florence, a Category 4 storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, could approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday. The confidence in a North Carolina landfall Thursday night is growing, but there's still room for improvement regarding model disagreement. Georgia, West Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware, New Jersey, southern Pennsylvania, and eastern Tennessee, Kentucky, and OH could also see strong winds.
Meteorologist Eric Holthaus had a three-letter reaction to the news that Hurricane Florence is now a category 4 storm with 115mph winds and higher gusts. The hurricane center noted that, when it comes to predicting the path of a hurricane four and five days in the future, it can be off by an average of about 140 and 180 nautical miles.
The center of the strong storm is about 1,240 miles east-southeast of Bald Head Island, with the hurricane moving westward at roughly 13 mph.
Hurricane Isaac, much farther out to sea, has become the 5th named hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, the hurricane center added. Packing heavy winds with a maximum sustained wind speed of 130 miles per hour (195 km/h), the hurricane is slowly barreling toward the U.S. East Coast, at a speed of approximately 13 miles per hour (20 km/h). It is expected to remain an extremely risky hurricane through Thursday as it approaches the coast of the Carolinas.
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The NHC said there is "an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts for Florence", citing "storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland and damaging hurricane force winds".
US President Donald Trump, whose administration was criticized as being slow to respond to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago, canceled a political rally planned for Friday in Jackson, Mississippi, over safety concerns related to Florence, his campaign said.
"We're in for a real episode here", McMaster said at a press conference. The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang said the storm is expected to strengthen to 150 miles per hour just before landfall somewhere along the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast Thursday night. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also suspended his campaign and asked President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration.
Residents of North and SC began evacuating coastal areas on Monday, after Hurricane Florence intensified into a category four storm, stripping supermarket shelves and stocking up on fuel for their cars.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Isaac is expected to weaken as it approaches the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, and then possibly fall apart. "This is a serious storm and it's going to affect the entire state of Virginia".