Watches Issued As Isaac Closes in on Lesser Antilles

Three storms — Florence Isaac and Helene — were moving across the Atlantic early Sunday

A video camera on board the space station also recorded footage of Hurricane Florence. The hurricane center announced the change in an update, citing data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft that showed Florence was rapidly intensifying, with maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour. With little wind shear to pull the storm apart, hurricane-strength winds have been expanding to 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the eye of the storm, and tropical-storm-force winds 150 miles from the center. The storm is already 500 miles wide - meaning a large area will be at risk when it nears land.

Florence is expected to smash into the Carolinas coast on Thursday evening.

CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said the main threat will be flooding, with predictions of 5 to 10 inches, with isolated totals of 15 inches.

He estimated about 1 million residents would flee the coast of his state, following earlier orders for the evacuation of more than 50,000 people from the southern-most Outer Banks barrier islands of North Carolina. "Florence has rapidly intensified into an extremely risky hurricane", Blake wrote Monday evening that top sustained winds would approach the 157 miles per hour (253 kph) threshold for a worst-case Category 5 scenario. "Flooding is the deadliest result of these storms". At this point, landfall may occur anywhere from SC to North Carolina and the storm may be a Category 3 or 4 storm at that time.

States of emergency were declared by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser for the nation's capital; requested by Virginia's governor; and approved by President Donald Trump for North and SC.

Stoney urged residents to prepare now by gathering supplies, including nonperishable food, water, flashlights, and batteries. The video also includes still images from NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold, who photographed the storm from the ISS. Although some strengthening is expected over the next day or two, forecasters say it will weaken once it approaches the Lesser Antilles.

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A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and Florence will be moving over waters where temperatures are peaking near 85 degrees, Blake wrote.

There are three hurricanes and a tropical wave in the Atlantic Ocean, and forecasters predict Hurricane Florence will make landfall later this week.

Two other storms were spinning in the Atlantic as the 2018 hurricane season reaches its peak. The NHC now shows Isaac heading west across the tropical Atlantic between South America and the Caribbean, but a path and intensity beyond that is unknown as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles.

The U.S. Navy said it was sending almost 30 ships from coastal Virginia out of port to ride out the storm.

Hurricane Isaac - which late Sunday became the fifth hurricane of the season - is heading west towards the Caribbean. But forecasters say residents should still beware of the chance for unsafe flooding and wind.

Its impacts may be felt much deeper in the U.S., including in most of Virginia.

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