US braces for 'extremely dangerous' storm, orders mass evacuations

Published: September 11, 2018 11:02:31 | Updated: September 12, 2018 14:15:37

A photo taken from the International Space Station by astronaut Ricky Arnold shows Hurricane Florence over the Atlantic Ocean in the early morning hours of Thursday last — NASA handout via Reuters

Evacuations have been ordered as the US East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence - in what may be the strongest storm to hit the region in decades.

South Carolina's governor on Monday ordered the evacuation of its entire coastline while North Carolina and Virginia have declared states of emergency.

Officials say Florence is now a category four storm with 130mph (195km/h) winds, and gaining strength.

It is expected to strike the Carolinas by Thursday, according to a BBC report.

Florence - which was 1,200 miles (2,000km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, on Monday morning - started the day as a category two storm.

The weather system could reach category five as its draws strength from the warm Atlantic waters, say forecasters.

It would be the first category four storm to hit the region since Hugo ravaged North Carolina in 1989, wreaking $7 billion in damage and claiming 49 lives.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says Florence has the makings of an "extremely dangerous" meteorological event.

It may bring catastrophic levels of rain and flooding to coastal and inland regions.

The NHC said: "There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland, and damaging hurricane-force winds."

National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Miller told The State newspaper in South Carolina: "Somebody is going to suffer devastating damage if this storm continues as it is currently forecast."

US President Donald Trump has cancelled plans for a rally on Friday in Mississippi because of the hurricane.



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