September 10-State and county emergency services are busily preparing for the forecasted strong impacts of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina, according to Davidson County Emergency Management Coordinator Maj.
Florence, packing winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kph), was expected to grow even stronger before making landfall on Thursday, mostly likely in southeastern North Carolina near the SC border, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
Governors in North and SC declared states of emergency in advance of the storm, which already was creating risky conditions in waters off the coast.
"The centre of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the southeastern coast of the U.S. on Thursday", the NHC said.
In North Carolina, all Hatteras Island residents and visitors were ordered to evacuate starting at noon Monday, according to Dare County Emergency Management.
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A mandatory evacuation order takes effect Tuesday at noon in eight counties along South Carolina's 187-mile coastline.
The National Weather Service said 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches.
Florence was upgraded to a Category 4 storm just after 12 p.m. Monday, as the rapidly strengthening storm moved westward through the Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center.
South Carolina's emergency helpline is active at 1-866-246-0133 for anyone with questions related to the storm.
A Storm Surge Warning is also in effect for South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina as well as Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. The president has spoken to the governors of both Carolinas and Virginia, the White House said Monday. Early on Monday Isaac, which the NHC called a small hurricane, was about 1,900km east of the Windward Islands - a region still recovering from 2017's powerful Hurricane Maria - with maximum sustained winds near 120km/h. "It's a big one", he said.
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For many, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge. Officials say people refusing to evacuate could end up alone, drenched and in the dark, as rescue crews won't go out to help in winds above 80 km/h. Roberts said he's telling them to get out of town.
The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office has not announced any road blocks ahead of Hurricane Florence as of Monday afternoon. Justin Kibbey also recalled the distinctness of the storm's eye.
A category 4 hurricane has winds in the 130 to 156 miles per hour range, according to the NHC.
The coastal surge from Florence could leave the eastern tip of North Carolina under more than 9 feet of water in spots, projections showed.
"Regardless of where the storm makes landfall, all residents in Stanly should prepare for this hurricane", said Brian T. Simpson, director of emergency services.
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The Atlantic hurricane season officially began June 1, but cooler water and higher wind shear - winds moving at different speeds and directions - early in the season are less than ideal for tropical systems to gain and maintain strength.