Florence rapidly strengthened into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane on Monday as it closed in on North and SC, carrying winds and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States later this week. North Carolina has ordered the evacuation of more than 50,000 people from Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of its Outer Banks barrier islands.
The 1st effects were already being seen on barrier islands Monday as unsafe rip currents and seawater flowed over the state highway.
Kottlowski is concerned that Florence will slow down and possibly stall near or inland of the coast, potentially leading to a life-threatening flooding situation.
The storm's potential path also includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous eastern pig farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons.
"We are expecting more wind that we had with Hugo and more water than we had with Matthew.", McMaster said.
At 11 p.m. EDT, the storm's center was located about 465 miles (750 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda and about 1,085 miles (1745 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded Isaac to a tropical storm overnight but said Tuesday that it could be "at or near hurricane levels" on Thursday, when it approaches the Lesser Antilles Islands.
Two other storms are spinning in the Atlantic. "Hurricane 2nd category Helen was strong, but was expected to move North into the open ocean", write the meteorologists.
The frequency and intensity of rip currents will increase as Florence strengthens and especially in areas in the direct line of sight of the hurricane, which is along the Carolina, Virginia and Delmarva coasts.
The hurricane has already reached category 4, with winds up to 130 miles per hour.
Florence is forecast to dump up to 40 inches (one meter) of rain in some areas after it makes landfall in North and SC.
Governors in the Carolinas and Virginia already had declared emergencies, and some sought federal aid as well.
Maps of the storm's trajectory showed it likely to come ashore somewhere near the border of North Carolina and SC.
"We are in the bull's eye", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told reporters on Monday.
Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools announced they are not altering their schedule for Tuesday and will continue to monitor conditions.
"But I'm staying", she said.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (the Stafford Act) §401 states in part that: "All requests for a declaration by the President that a major disaster exists shall be made by the Governor of the affected State".
"I don't think many of us have ever been through a Category 4". And Virginia's governor ordered a mandatory evacuation for some residents of low-lying coastal areas.
Storm "Florence" promises to be the most powerful in 30 years.
Hurricane season officially peaks today: September 10.
SHAPIRO: Wilmington, N.C., is now in Florence's path.