As of 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, the center of Hurricane Florence was about 785 miles east-southeast of North Carolina and headed toward the U.S. at 17 mph. The Category 4 storm is currently producing maximum sustained wind speeds of 140 mph, according to the latest readings from an NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft.
Hurricane and storm surge warnings have been issued for large swaths of the North and South Carolina coasts as Hurricane Florence gains strength and barrels toward the area, according to an update from the National Hurricane Center on Tuesday evening.
Where Hurricane Florence’s path is headed
Hurricane Florence’s predicted path shows it could make landfall on the coast of North or South Carolina after 8 a.m. Friday as a major hurricane. Tropical storm-force winds could hit the eastern seaboard early Thursday. By Friday morning, an area from Northern Florida to central New Jersey — and as far inland as Kentucky and southeast Ohio could experience tropical storm-force winds.
More than 1.2 million people are under mandatory evacuation orders. On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered evacuations for nearly the entire coastline ahead of the hurricane. The evacuation order affects nearly every county along the state’s coast, including Charleston, Beaufort, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
“We’re in for a real episode here,” McMaster said, later adding: “The atmospheric conditions are such that nothing’s stopping it.”
Hurricane Florence continued on a path toward North Carolina and South Carolina where it is expected to make landfall Thursday night. The National Hurricane Center said on Tuesday that the Category 4 storm would probably gain strength later in the day, possibly to become a Category 5 system.
“There will be extensive damage inflicted by Hurricane Florence due to its predicted path, which is perpendicular to the coast, rather than at an oblique angle. This means the east and southeast winds on the east side of the storm are going to be most effective in driving storm surge flooding as the wind and waves pound the coast. That is one of many factors in why AccuWeather is estimating $30 billion in economic impact and damage from Florence,” AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel N. Myers said.