Hurricane Florence strengthened to a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale with maximum sustained winds approaching 130 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The NHC upgraded Florence on Monday after data from hurricane hunter aircraft showed the storm had rapidly strengthened. Florence is forecast to make landfall in the Carolinas late Thursday.
NEW: Florence is now a category 4 hurricane. Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter indicate that Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen and has maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (195 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 946 mb (27.93 inches) https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/wfLt6fJPl2
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 10, 2018
Hurricane Helene also became a Category 2 strength storm on Monday, but that cyclone is forecast to head north into the Atlantic, avoiding land. (RELATED: Three Hurricanes Churn In The Atlantic)
Florence could strengthen more before making landfall in a few days as it travels over warm ocean water with “negligible” wind shear, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue.
I’m not really seeing anything stopping #Florence from reaching Category 5 (140-knots).
The ocean temperatures are very warm fed by the Gulf Steam along the storm track.
The blocking ridge to north will allow an anti-cyclone to form aloft & wind shear will be negligible. pic.twitter.com/idTq5FHr1N
— Ryan Maue | weathermodels.com (@RyanMaue) September 10, 2018
Florence will likely bring torrential rain, damaging winds and massive storm surges as it touches down in the U.S. southeast. North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have issued emergency declarations.
Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said his state is “bracing for a hard hit,” the Associated Press reported. Cooper urged residents to prepare for heavy rainfall and even flooding across the state. Coastal communities started evacuations on Monday.
Cooper mobilized 200 National Guard troops, and he asked President Donald Trump to issued a disaster declaration to facilitate federal aid.
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