Intensifying Hurricane Florence could strike US Southeast | Newsradio 1020 KDKA

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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's office said that Florence is already being felt along the state's coast, with large sea swells resulting in life-threatening rip currents and surf.

In North Carolina, emergency officials in Dare County issued mandatory evacuations Monday for residents and visitors of Hatteras Island, on the southern end of the Outer Banks.

The NHC was also tracking two other hurricanes farther out in the Atlantic.

The storm's sustained winds reached 75 mph, just over the threshold for a hurricane, as it made its way across the Atlantic, about 750 miles southeast of Bermuda, the National Hurricane Center said. Forecasters said Florence was expected to become an extremely unsafe major hurricane sometime Monday and remain that way for days.

Trump tweeted Monday afternoon that the federal government was monitoring the storm and was ready to help.

Cotton, corn and soybean fields, along with massive hog and poultry facilities lie in Florence's forecast path.Smithfield Foods Inc., the No. 1 hog producer, and chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. saw North Carolina operations disrupted in 2016 in flooding from Hurricane Matthew.

States of emergency were declared in the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland.

Like Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over Texas in 2017, Florence could linger over the Southeast for several days after landfall. The storm's winds had increased to 140 miles per hour by Monday afternoon.

At 5 p.m. Monday, the eye of Hurricane Florence was located near latitude 25.4 North, longitude 61.1 West.

Helene was also upgraded to a hurricane on Sunday, the center said, but neither Helene nor Tropical Storm Isaac are expected to hit the mainland United States.

It is going to be a powerful storm for the next few days, and it has the potential to become a Category 5 Hurricane, according to Walsh. It regained hurricane strength Sunday and was upgraded again Monday.

"There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland and damaging hurricane-force winds", the National Hurricane Center said Monday.

"Ive been doing this since 1983", Roberts said as he completed an order for another 18-wheeler full of supplies. The island state is still recovering from Hurricane Lane, which brought flooding rains to many areas last month. Roberts said hes telling them to get out of town.

In a news release, the Navy said the ships can handle destructive weather better while at sea and that "having the ships underway also makes them ready and available to respond to any national tasking, including any needed disaster response efforts in the local area after the storm has passed".

"Im telling them to go inland, but Im anxious about the rain and tornadoes too", Roberts said. "Normally, a landfalling tropical cyclone just keeps on going inland, gradually dissipating and raining itself out. Flooding is the deadliest result of these storms". She grew up on the shore, and says this will be only the second time she's evacuated.

"I dont think many of us have ever been through a Category 4". And out here we're so fragile. "Were just a strip of land — were a barrier island", she said. She believes her home, built in 2009, will be secure, but its hard to foresee all potential hazards. "There is no way to be completely safe". Starting then, all roads on I-26 and Route 501 will be directed away from the coast, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said.

The order issued Saturday by Gov. Ralph Northam helps mobilize resources to prepare for the storm, mitigate any damage and streamline the process Virginia uses to send assistance to other states. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington canceled classes as people stocked up on supplies.

In Charleston, South Carolina, along the coast, city officials offered sandbags to residents.

Preparations for Florence come as the Atlantic hurricane season hits its peak.

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