Climate Change Drives Bigger, Wetter Storms - Storms Like Florence

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Shortly before 2 p.m., Alert Carolina released a statement noting that until further notice, classes and operations would run as scheduled at the University. Also, looking like a direct hit on North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

State offices - including the University of SC - and schools also will close in 26 counties in the eastern part of the state Tuesday, McMaster said.

"Let me be clear: North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously and you should too", Mr Cooper said at a news conference. Hurricane Florence is expected to hit the US coast in the later half of this week, possibly as early as Wednesday evening.

All interests along the coasts of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic are being put on alert for a potential strike from Category 4 Hurricane Florence during the second half of the week. Forecasters say Florence will arrive on land as an extremely unsafe major hurricane by the end of the week. NASA cameras also captured the storm earlier in September as it churned across the North Atlantic.

That means the hurricane will be dumping rain over multiple East Coast states, and it's not just a coastal problem. By evening, the storm was centered about 1,170 miles (1,880 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, the NHC said. However, by that point it will be so large it will pose a grave storm-surge threat to the shoreline and its winds could reach far inland.

South Carolina Emergency Management will open their emergency shelters on Tuesday based on need.

So you know, where we've been able to deploy resources closer to the coast when we had major hurricanes like this that maybe skirt the coast and then move up the coast of North Carolina, up the eastern seaboard - this one seems to be coming into the Wilmington area and then goes right through the state.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Olivia triggered warnings for multiple Hawaiian islands as it blew west toward an arrival over the state as soon as late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

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The United States was hit with a series of high-powered hurricanes a year ago, including Hurricane Maria, which killed about 3,000 people in Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Harvey, which killed 68 and caused an estimated $1.25 billion in damage from catastrophic flooding in Houston.

North and SC, along with Maryland and Virginia, have declared states of emergency, and mandatory evacuations are in place across numerous counties.

Florence is packing maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour, with higher gusts - and it's getting both larger and better-organized, the hurricane center said. Trees can be snapped or uprooted. "Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes".

The state Transportation Department likely will begin diverting eastbound traffic off I-26 in Columbia to US 321 or I-77 north at 8 a.m. Tuesday, it said. That Category 4 storm destroyed 15,000 buildings and killed 19 people in North Carolina.

"This is not going to be a glancing blow", Byard said, warning of power outages, road closures, infrastructure damage and potential loss of life.

Some strengthening is expected during the next 36 hours, and Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday.

A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and Florence will be moving over waters where temperatures are peaking near 85 degrees (30 Celsius), hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote.

A category 3 hurricane has winds of 96 to 112 miles per hour, the NHC said.

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