The National Hurricane Center said on Monday evening that Hurricane Florence is getting bigger and stronger as it makes its way across the Atlantic Ocean and toward the East Coast.
It now has maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, making it a Category 4 hurricane.
“Florence has rapidly intensified into an extremely dangerous hurricane,” the NHC said.
Recent data from a hurricane hunter aircraft showed the size of hurricane force winds has doubled in just the past 12 hours, and there’s no sign the storm has peaked.
CATEGORY 4: Hurricane #Florence is rapidly strengthening and is now a Category 4 hurricane. This photo provided by NASA shows the storm from the International Space Station on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, as it threatens the U.S. East Coast. LATEST FORECAST: https://t.co/EYGS6na3vZ pic.twitter.com/o2cxtfUZin
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) September 10, 2018
Florence will continue into warmer waters and a low shear environment, which will contribute to its intensity.
The storm could become a Category 5 storm by Tuesday. That is the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
“The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity,” the NHC noted.
The latest track has Florence aiming for the Carolinas, and people there could start to see the impact of Florence by Thursday.
The storm will likely stall once it arrives on shore. If that happens, it will have to rain itself out and that could lead to catastrophic flooding inland.
Potential U.S. Impacts
We cannot pinpoint exact locations that will see the worst impacts from storm surge, wind and rainfall flooding. However, some potential impacts are coming into a bit more focus.
– Storm Surge Impact: A destructive storm surge will accompany the eye coming ashore Thursday. It will be highest to the north or northeast of where the center comes ashore. Large, battering waves will ride atop this surge. All evacuation orders from local officials should be followed because of this dangerous threat. Significant beach erosion is also likely on the southeastern U.S. coast.
According to research by Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, record storm-surge heights of 15 to 20 feet are possible just to the east of the landfall point if Florence strikes the coast of North or South Carolina as a Category 3 or stronger hurricane.