Location: United States
Hurricane Florence is rapidly intensifying and could strike a direct and dangerous blow anywhere from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic region later this week, possibly as a fearsome category 4, forecasters said. The first impacts were already being seen Monday on a barrier island, as seawater flowed over a coastal road.
A hurricane hunter plane found Florence strengthening quickly, reaching top winds of 85 mph (140 kph) Sunday evening after crossing the 74 mph threshold from tropical storm to a hurricane earlier in the day. Forecasters said Florence could become an extremely dangerous major hurricane sometime Monday and remain that way for days.
It’s too early to know the exact path of Florence, but forecasters said it could blow ashore by Thursday in the Carolinas and southern Virginia, a stretch of the U.S. East Coast that experts have identified as the most vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change.
The governors of North and South Carolina and Virginia declared states of emergency far ahead of the approaching storm.
Red flags have already been flying on beaches, warning swimmers to stay out of the water as seas began kicking up. People rushed to get emergency kits ready, map out escape routes, fill sandbags and secure their homes.