Hurricane Florence has officially been upgraded to a Category 4 storm, and is currently making its way towards the Southeast coast of the United States.
CBS News reports that Florence is currently carrying winds of up to 140 mph and is expected to be upgraded to a Category 5 storm on Tuesday, with the squall expected to make landfall on North or South Carolina on Thursday. Before that, Florence's center will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is expected to impact a coastal area of the Carolinas, which is likely susceptible to rising sea levels, causing major flooding threats. The last time North Carolina was hit by a Category 4 hurricane was in 1954. Barrier islands have already seen the coming effects of the storm, with rip currents and rising seawater already impacting the area.
After hitting the Carolinas, Florence is not expected to quickly dissipate, with those inland being warned to prepare for the storm's effects as well.
"It's not just the coast," explained National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham. "When you stall a system like this and it moves real slow, some of that rainfall can extend well away from the center."
Florence is currently projected to be the most powerful storm to ever hit North Carolina and has already prompted evacuations, with CNN sharing that over one million people are facing mandatory evacuation orders in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
"Hurricane wind gusts will likely begin being felt Thursday early evening as the storm begins to approach landfall," said CNN meteorologist Michael Guy. "Inland areas of Raleigh, the Piedmont of North Carolina (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High-Point), and Charlotte will likely see tropical storm force winds early Thursday afternoon as the hurricane continues to approach the Outer Banks along the coast."
The NHC said that Florence is expected to be an "extremely dangerous major hurricane" through Thursday night.0comments
The storm has been gathering strength quickly since forming thanks to the warm waters of the Atlantic, and was classified as a hurricane on Sunday. It was upgraded to Category 3 on Monday and reclassified as a Category 4 storm just hours later. On Tuesday, it is expected to reach Category 5, which would mean it would carry winds of up to 157 mph.
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