Hurricane Florence strengthens to potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm


"Florence is. expected to remain an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", the hurricane center warned.

Neil Dixon, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, said the watches will shift throughout the day as Hurricane Florence is tracked.

Navy ships off Virginia's coast were preparing to sail out of the path, a North Carolina university has already canceled classes and people have begun stocking up on plywood, bottled water and other supplies.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for North Carolina Friday, and the Marine Lab-which is just off the coast-will be evacuated Thursday.

Forecasters say the hurricane's strength is expected to fluctuate but it still will be a risky storm by the time it reaches the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday.

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According to the National Hurricane Center's 11 a.m. advisory on Tuesday, September 11, Hurricane Florence is expected to re-strengthen later today.

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman, Col. Robert Manning said, "Northern Command is spending an advanced team to the emergency operations center in Raleigh, North Carolina Monday to conduct an assessment and coordinate with federal and state partners".

The governors of North and SC and Virginia declared states of emergency far ahead of the approaching storm. It's intensity is expected to fluctuate some over the next couple of days.

Hurricane Florence churned Tuesday toward the Eastern Seaboard as a storm of "staggering" size, forcing a million people to evacuate the coast.

As of 5 a.m. EDT, Florence was centered about 625 miles (1,005 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, moving west at 9 mph (15 kph).

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All inland residents should find out now if you live in a flood prone area.

Florence had maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, making it a Category 1 storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.

Florence could hit the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since Hazel packed 130 miles per hour (209 kph) winds in 1954. Any Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane is classified as a major hurricane. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 10 miles (20 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km).

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". "With time, the wind pushes the water into every nook and cranny you can think of", Graham said.

Areas near where the eye moves inland will likely see catastrophic storm surge and 120-140mph winds.

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Isaac is expected to reach landfall in the Caribbean later this week. Helene will slowly weaken and could impact the Azores as a tropical storm late this weekend.