Florence explodes into potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane

Olivia satellite imagery. PC  NOAA  CPHC

Kim Buttrick, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said Florence and the two other hurricanes now over the Atlantic - Isaac and Helene - are not expected to have any direct impact on New England.

President Donald Trump on Monday urged "the incredible citizens of North Carolina, South Carolina and the entire East Coast" to "take all necessary precautions" as the storm approaches. It is expected to strengthen and possibly become a Category 5 storm Tuesday before closing in on North or SC on Thursday.

Hurricane Florence was located south of Bermuda as of the National Hurricane Center's 8 a.m. report.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference his state was in "the bull's eye".

"The chances of it going out to sea are extremely slim at this point", she said.

The governors of North and SC and Virginia declared states of emergency far ahead of the approaching storm. The storm was located roughly 1,170 miles east-southeast of the Cape Fear region, and remained a unsafe Category 4 storm.

"This could be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the Carolinas since Hugo", Quagliariello said, referring to the Category 5 hurricane that caused widespread damage in the Caribbean and Southeast U.S.in 1989.

At 2 p.m., the storm was centered 845 miles (1,360 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph).

The United States was hit with a series of high-powered hurricanes previous year, including Hurricane Maria, which killed about 3,000 people in Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Harvey, which killed 68 and caused an estimated $1.25 billion in damage from catastrophic flooding in Houston.

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SOUTHEASTERN N.C. - The National Weather Service has placed parts of New Hanover County under a coastal flood advisory through midnight.

Isaac is a strong tropical storm with 60kt sustained winds, now about 675 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. Behind Isaac, Hurricane Helene is picking up strength, with twist paces of more than 105 miles per hour as of Monday afternoon. Any Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane is classified as a major hurricane.

Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier said operators would begin shutting down nuclear plants at least two hours before hurricane-force winds arrive.

He said as far as the National Emergency Planning Organisation is concerned "we are taking no chances and we are leaving no stone unturned in respect to the preparation of the state, the country and its citizens for this incoming weather system".

Freshwater flooding is extremely likely once the storm makes landfall, possibly as far inland as West Virginia.

Isaac is a Category 1 hurricane that's blowing winds between 74-95 miles per hour.

Hurricane Florence may become a category 4 storm.

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Hurricane Isaac - which late Sunday became the fifth hurricane of the season - is heading west towards the Caribbean. "Isaac is expected to be near hurricane strength when it moves through the central Lesser Antilles, with some weakening forecast afterward on Friday", the NHC said.

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