2:15 p.m. update: Strengthening Florence causing rip currents, swells

Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm with 140 miles per hour (225 kilometres per hour) winds, is expected to make landfall somewhere between North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Mid-Atlantic states on Thursday evening or Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

FILE PHOTO: Hurricane Florence seen over the Atlantic Ocean, about 750 miles southeast of Bermuda in this handout photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on September 9, 2018.

While there are no coastal warnings or watches in effect yet for the US mainland, "interests in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states should monitor the progress of Florence", the agency advised.

Monday morning Meteorologist Morgan Simms, with the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office in Newport, said Florcence was a Category 2 with sustained 105 mph winds and is expected to continue to intensify over 24 hours into a possible Category 4 hurricane.

"A turn toward the northwest is forecast to occur late Wednesday night".

Storms generally form over the equator, where the water temperature is especially high, then move north and west, pushed along by currents in the tropical Atlantic.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially began June 1, but cooler water and higher wind shear - winds moving at different speeds and directions - early in the season are less than ideal for tropical systems to gain and maintain strength.

"The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely unsafe hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity", the NHC said.

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Amtrak is canceling service south of Washington, ahead of Hurricane Florence. Drawing energy from the warm water, the now Category 2 storm could be a fearsome Category 4 with winds of 130 miles per hour or more by Tuesday. Trees can be snapped or uprooted.

Residents of coastal areas are boarding up homes and packing their bags as residents brace for Florence's wrath. "Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months", says the weather agency.

Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents to prepare for lengthy power outages after the hurricane arrives. "Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months".

Preparations for Florence come as the Atlantic hurricane season hits its peak.

The governor of SC on Sept. 10 said that mandatory evacuations will start at Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 12 p.m. local time.

Ralph Northam has issued mandatory evacuations for Zone A, the lowest-lying areas of Coastal Virginia and the Eastern Shore, in anticipation of Hurricane Florence. It added that "The SCEMD website is now in disaster mode".

"Charleston to Columbia: A full four-lane reversal on I-26 in Charleston will begin at the interchange of I-26 and I-526".

"Horry County: Horry County has two four-lane reversals along U.S. 501: SC 544 to United States 378; and USA 501: Between SC 22 (Conway Bypass) to SC 576 near Marion County".

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