More than one million residents living the coastlines of Virginia and the Carolinas have been forced to evacuate their homes as the life-threatening Hurricane Florence hurtles towards the east coast.
Weather officials predict this storm to be one of the most powerful to ever hit the region, with forecasters estimating that the hurricane will make landfall this Thursday (September 13). Experts have reported that the region can expect potentially catastrophic winds of up to 150mph and high levels of flooding with up to two meters of rainfall.
The storm currently sits in category four on the national weather service’s (NWS) classification system, but the US national hurricane center (NHC) has said that it is closer to category five in strength—the most powerful classification as marked on the classification system.
At a news conference on Monday, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster said Florence “is particularly big, particularly strong and… there’s nothing stopping it.
“And when it hits the Gulf Stream in warmer water, it’s going [to intensify] even more.” McMaster declared a state of emergency on Saturday, along with the governors of Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland.
The NHC said, “The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity.”
President Donald Trump took to Twitter to say, “My people just informed me that this is one of the worst storms to hit the East coast in many years. Also, looking like a direct hit on North Caroline, South Caroline and Virginia. Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!”
According to records, Hurricane Florence is the first storm at category four strength to hit the Carolinas for 30 years; the last occurrence was Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
People have been warned to steer clear of the coast’s beaches and oceans as the sea swelled and dangerous rip currents already surfaced over the weekend, forecasting the arrival of Hurricane Florence.