Category 4 hurricane Florence maintains strength east of North Carolina: NHC

NC rep asks Trump for expedited disaster declaration ahead of Hurricane Florence

Shortly before 2 p.m., Alert Carolina released a statement noting that until further notice, classes and operations would run as scheduled at the University.

Overnight, Florence went through an "eyewall replacement cycle", senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said in an update from the hurricane center on Tuesday.

Governors in the Carolinas and Virginia already had declared emergencies, and some sought federal aid as well.

A mandatory evacuation order takes effect Tuesday at noon in eight counties along South Carolina's 187-mile coastline.

The storm "is too powerful and its path is too uncertain to take any chances", SC governor Henry McMaster said, issuing his state's emergency declaration.

A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Florence was 525 miles south-southeast of Bermuda and the centre of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its 5:00 pm (2100 GMT) advisory. Hurricane-force winds could extend more than 50 miles from the storm's center, putting much of the state at risk of destructive winds.

There is a mandatory medical evacuation in place for hospitals, said Rep. Tim McGinnis in a Facebook post.

"Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said in a bulletin.

Two other storms were spinning in the Atlantic. "We are going to put everything else away and then we are going to put some concrete blocks in front of the doors just so rushing water and wind can't blow the doors back in", said Matthew Littleton with Casper's Marina.

Long-duration hurricane-force winds of 74 miles per hour or higher could cause tremendous damage and widespread power outages. Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, said: "The time to prepare is nearly over, Disaster is at the doorstep and it's coming in".

Early on Tuesday, Florence was centred about 975 miles east-south-east of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west-north-west at almost 15mph.

If the storm stalls, some areas could see feet of rain, especially if downpours focus over the higher terrain in western North Carolina and southwestern and central Virginia Authorities said such volume could cause flash floods, mudslides, and other unsafe conditions.

Florence is packing maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour, with higher gusts - and it's getting both larger and better-organized, the hurricane center said.

But Florence is large as well as strong, with impacts expected along a large swath of the Southeast Atlantic coast, said Meteorologist Robert Bright of the National Weather Service in Charleston.

"Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen", the NHC said. "Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed". Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. When Alexander Gerst and Ricky Arnold, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS), attempted to photograph Hurricane Florence, the storm was so big they "could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens", according to Gerst.

The Category 4 storm's approach led to a series of schedule adjustments Tuesday for teams in the Carolinas and Virginia. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., says climate change also affects another feature of Florence - it's enormous.

"Some additional strengthening is expected today, and Helene is forecast to become a major hurricane by tonight".

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