Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Isaac strengthens into hurricane behind Florence, Helene

Isaac strengthens into hurricane behind Florence, Helene

Hurricane Florence is expected to "bring life-threatening storm surge, tropical storm force winds, heavy rains and the potential for tornadoes" to Dare and other coastal counties, said the National Weather Service.

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold shared views from the International Space Station, which orbits around 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth.

Although Florence's path has wavered over the past week, forecasters now project that the storm could still pack a Category 4 or even 5 punch upon landfall, which will occur along the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast (most likely upon the Carolinas).

The first effects were already being seen on barrier islands Monday as risky rip currents and seawater flowed over the state highway. It is over warm water and a favorable upper level environment so rapid strengthening is forecast and Florence is forecast to be a major hurricane Monday morning.

"The earliest reasonable time that tropical-storm-force winds will reach the coast of the Carolinas is Wednesday night, but the most likely time is Thursday morning", the center shared.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also declared a state of emergency on Saturday, and South Carolina's Emergency Management Division urged South Carolina residents to begin preparing their property for Florence's effects.

Henry McMaster, governor of SC, warned the U.S. should be braced for the hurricane to hit.

Helene is expected to go out to sea after passing the Cabo Verde Islands, but Isaac could be on a path to the Caribbean, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria almost a year ago.

Forecasters said early Monday afternoon that data indicated Florence has maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour and a minimum central pressure of 946 millibars (27.93 inches).

Rapidly intensifying Hurricane Florence could strike a direct and risky blow anywhere from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic region later this week.

Both Tropical Storm Isaac and Tropical Storm Helene are expected to reach hurricane strength but neither is considered a threat to Bermuda.

Helene - 375 miles (600 kms) west of the Cape Verde islands off the African coast - had winds up to 105 mph (165 kph), and was expected to continue moving west-northwest for another couple of days, the NHC said in its 1500 GMT bulletin. Cotton, corn and soybean fields, along with massive hog and poultry facilities lie in Florence's forecast path.Smithfield Foods Inc., the No. 1 hog producer, and chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. saw North Carolina operations disrupted in 2016 in flooding from Hurricane Matthew.

I'll have more on Florence later today.

At noon Monday, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for North Carolina's Hatteras Island.

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