Hurricane Florence is closing in on the Southeast as officials warned more than 1 million people in its projected path to leave now or face disaster. Florence is a category four hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph, and computer models on Wednesday morning show it will make landfall around Wilmington, North Carolina on Friday as a major hurricane, said National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Florence is expected to be one of the strongest hurricanes on the eastern seaboard in decades and could unleash dangerous storm surges, flooding and hurricane-force winds in the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states.
According to reports, Florence’s track to the U.S. East Coast shifted slightly to the south overnight and the storm is now threatening to batter a wide swath of coastline as it makes landfall near Myrtle Beach.
“With the new track, you’re just exposing more shoreline to worse conditions,” said Evan Duffey, an AccuWeather meteorologist. “If Florence rides southward, as now forecast, it means its strongest side will rake the shore, threatening property from South Carolina to Virginia.”
While Florence which is still 530 miles (855 kilometers) away from the coast, is expected to lose wind speed the closer it gets to land, it remains a formidable threat to the coastline from Georgetown, South Carolina, to Wilmington, North Carolina as peak winds could be between 100 and 120 miles per hour. While the storm will likely weaken further in the coming hours – and history is full of storms that lost power before striking land and are still counted as among the most infamous, Katrina, Ike and Sandy are just three – Bloomberg notes that they all stand as proof that ranking on the Saffir-Simpson windscale alone isn’t a measure of power.
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