Just days before projected landfall, Hurricane Florence is sending residents of the Carolina coast racing for cover.
Although the outer bands of rain and wind will be felt shortly, Florence is expected to come upon land sometime late Thursday into early Friday. Currently, the storm remains a dangerous category four hurricane. The National Weather Service (NWS) warns that the storm will bring a massive storm surge, strong winds, and life-threatening flooding potential in inland areas.
Hurricane and storm surge warnings and watches are now in effect up and down the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina. Tropical storm watches extend as far north as Norfolk, Virginia. Meteorologists are warning residents of inland Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina of possible inland flooding if the storm stalls out as many models are predicting.
As of late Tuesday evening, Florence was located approximately 600 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. The storm is moving west-northwestward at 17 miles per hour. Current pressure readings are coming in at 946 millibars, delivering winds in excess of 140 miles per hour. Florence weakened on Tuesday morning when the storm went through eyewall replacement. However, the storm quickly began to regain strength as the day went on, intensifying once again to category four strength.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicts that Florence will come onshore at a minimum of a category three intensity and could possibly remain a category four when landfall occurs. Mandatory evacuation orders have been placed for millions of people along the coast with more to possibly come as the path of the storm becomes more apparent. Residents will begin experiencing the tropical force winds on Thursday morning with hurricane force winds expected to arrive on Thursday evening just ahead of the landfall. President Donald Trump preemptively declared an emergency in North Carolina, enabling the state to access federal funds in anticipation of the storm. Residents who are choosing to remain in their homes for the duration of the storm are preparing by stocking up on food and essentials and boarding up windows.