The most vicious storm of the 2018 hurricane season has just been upgraded to category four storm as it barrels toward the eastern coast of the United States.
The National Hurricane Center announced Monday afternoon that Hurricane Florence has been upgraded to a category four hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour.
“Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter indicate that Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen and has maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (195 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 946 mb (27.93 inches),” the center said.
NEW: Florence is now a category 4 hurricane. Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter indicate that Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen and has maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (195 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 946 mb (27.93 inches) https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/wfLt6fJPl2
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 10, 2018
Satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released Monday morning showed the massive storm brewing in the Atlantic. “The storm is strengthening rapidly and is expected to become a major hurricane very soon,” NOAA said in the image’s caption.
This incredible loop from #GOESEast shows Hurricane #Florence churning in the Atlantic. The storm is strengthening rapidly and is expected to become a major hurricane very soon. Latest: https://t.co/LdMJC4oIds pic.twitter.com/AqMr0P2Ogm
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 10, 2018
The storm is expected to make landfall in South Carolina on Thursday.
This is the second time Hurricane Florence has strengthened to a category four.
The storm had gradually increased from tropical depression to minor hurricane between Aug. 30 and Sept 2. It experienced its first period of rapid intensification between Sept. 4 and 5, where it first achieved category four status.
Strong winds weakened Florence back down to a tropical storm on Sept 7. However, after crossing into warmer waters, Florence strengthened rapidly again on Sept. 9. By Sept. 10, it grew to category three, before climbing to category four status once again.
The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia have declared a state of emergency. Some counties in the Carolinas, such as the Outer Banks area, have been given mandatory evacuation orders.
Meteorologists are anticipating catastrophic damage from the storm if it continues strengthening due to warm waters.
Eric Blake, a hurricane expert in the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said: “There is increasing confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity,” Fox News reported.
Residents have already begun preparing for the storm, leaving store shelves empty of items such as bottled water, bread, and plates.
— katie ricketts (@KatieRicketts_) September 9, 2018
If the storm slows when it makes landfall, it could produce devastating flooding. Rainfall of up to two feet is expected from the storm. The South Carolina emergency management agency is “preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster.”
“We are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said at a Saturday news conference.