The latest report from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) indicates that Hurricane Florence is on the verge of becoming a monster storm, which strengthened rapidly overnight as it continued to gain strength over the Atlantic, 625 miles southeast of Bermuda.
Florence had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and was moving west-northwest at nine mph, making it a Category 2 hurricane, the NHC said. An increase in maximum sustained wind speed is expected over the next several days, as government officials from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic on Monday were preparing for a direct hit later this week.
“Rapid strengthening is forecast, and Florence is forecast to become a major hurricane this morning and is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday,” the NHC said.
Over the weekend, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency in anticipation of a direct hit. The declaration allows the state to use the National Guard for preparations and to aid in search and recovery operations in the aftermath. North Carolina and Virginia have taken similar measures.
Hurricane #Florence update— NC Emergency Managem (@NCEmergency) September 10, 2018
• Increasing risk of life-threatening impacts: storm surge at coast, flooding inland
• Dangerous winds could down trees & cause power outages
• Landfall may be Thurs. If slows after landfall may cause heavier rain & winds.
Stay tuned for #ncwx pic.twitter.com/YIN6OLA1KC
Chuck Watson, a disaster researcher at Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia, told Bloomberg that the northern coast of South Carolina and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are likely to be the areas most impacted by the storm, which could cause $15.32 billion in damage if it stays on its current trajectory.
Watson said the Gulf Stream is driving warm water past Cape Hatteras, which could create a “nightmare scenario” that could lead to as much as $25 billion in damages.
“Somebody is going to suffer devastating damage if this storm continues as it is currently forecast,” Dan Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia, told The State newspaper.
Meteoroglists have said it is still too early to predict Florence's path exactly but warned that many computer models point to a direct hit in the Carolinas by Thursday.
Hurricane Florence Model Track Guidance
What are meteorologists tweeting?
"The leftward solution from the most reliable ECMWF model for Hurricane Florence is centered just south of SC|NC border. The actual landfall point will matter but large size of storm means coast from Charleston, SC to NC Outer Banks should prepare for hurricane conditions," said Ryan Maue, meteorologist @weatherdotus.
The landfall location of Hurricane #Florence is still uncertain to 100-200 miles. Complicating will be very SLOW movement Thurs-Fri exacerbating extreme rainfall.
GFS model (reliable thru 5-days) is...