Monster storm prompts evacuation orders in three U.S. states


Florence is now a Category 4 storm, packing 130 mile-per-hour winds, according to an 11 a.m. update from the U.S. Hurricane Center, and it may soon re-strengthen to near Category 5 levels.

As Hurricane Florence churned toward an eventual Eastern Seaboard landfall, more than 1 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes along the USA south-east coast on Tuesday.

If the latest forecast holds, Florence will strike farther north on the East Coast than any other Category 4 hurricane in history.

The slow-moving storm, the most severe hurricane to threaten the US mainland this year, was rated a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and located about 845 miles (1,360 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, at 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT), according to the NHC. Helene is expected to continue strengthening over the next two days as it rolls west and become a major, Cat 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour.

Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said flooding is expected on the lower Eastern Shore associated with the storm surge and in areas where the ground is already very saturated.

McMaster rescinded the order Tuesday for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties - less than 24 hours after he placed an evacuation order on the state's entire coastline.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered evacuations in flood-prone areas in the Hampton Roads area, which is home to one of the busiest ports in the United States as well as the largest naval base in the world. Isaac became a tropical storm again approaching the Caribbean, while Hurricane Helene was veering northward, no threat to land.

"You're going to get heavy rain, catastrophic life-threatening storm surge and also the winds". Storm surge is also a major concern.

But the landfall intensity of that storm was 250 km/h when it hit Puerto Rico, it added. Charlotte, North Carolina could take a direct hit, according to the National Weather Service. This means the incoming winds of a hurricane like Florence, can pile water up with comparative ease. The biggest risks from Hurricane Florence may not come from wind, but from the associated rainfall.

"While the Charlotte area is not completely out of the region that could face the effects of Hurricane Florence, for many of our neighbors to the east it is a safer alternative or a good stopping point as they seek shelter elsewhere", said Greg Walter, executive vice president of Charlotte Motor Speedway.

A long recovery is predicted for the states after the major hurricane hits.

Simpson said starting Wednesday and through the latter part of the week, southern New England could see high surf, elevated swell, and possible rip currents due to the hurricane farther south. The most powerful winds will arrive overnight Thursday and throughout the day on Friday.