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'Extremely dangerous' Florence strengthening on approach to U.S. coast

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Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm, is expected to pick up strength later Tuesday as it continues on its path toward the mid-Atlantic United States. The storm is projected to make landfall in North or South Carolina Thursday. Image courtesy NOAA

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Hurricane Florence is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall as it approaches the mid-Atlantic Coast of the United States, forecasters said Tuesday.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence was at Category 4 strength and will produce extremely dangerous conditions for land in its path. The storm will most likely make landfall in North Carolina or South Carolina on Thursday.

The eye of the storm was about 355 miles southwest of Bermuda and 670 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, N.C. It was moving west-northwest at 17 mph and recorded maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, the NHC said in its 11 p.m. EDT advisory.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect from South Santee River, S.C., to Duck, N.C., and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds while a Tropical Storm Watch was issued from north of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, Va., and for the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

Hurricane and storm surge watches were in effect from Edisto Beach, S.C., to the North Carolina-Virginia border and Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.

Florence was upgraded Monday to Category 3, and then quickly to Category 4. The storm could impact anywhere from northern Florida to north of the Washington, D.C., area, producing life-threatening conditions.

The hurricane is expected to move between Bermuda and the Bahamas through Wednesday before it makes its final approach to the East Coast on Thursday.

"Florence is expected to begin restrengthening later today and continue a slow strengthening trend for the next day or so," the NHC said Tuesday.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

The hurricane could reach Category 5 strength, which requires sustained winds of 157 mph or greater. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last year were both Category 4 storms when they arrived in Texas and Florida, respectively. Before that, no major hurricane (Category 3 or greater) had arrived in the United States since 2005.

"While some weakening is expected on Thursday, Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through landfall," forecasters said.

It is forecast to "slow down considerably" by late Thursday into Friday and approach the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday.

Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 20 inches and possibly 30 inches in some spots along its track over portions of North Carolina, Virginia and northern South Carolina through Saturday. The rainfall may produce life-threatening flash floods.

Florence is the first of three storms brewing in the Atlantic -- ahead of Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac, which are not expected to threaten the United States mainland.

Late Monday, President Donald Trump approved requests for emergency declarations in the Carolinas, which will provide federal assistance to both states. The aid applies retroactively to Friday, when local officials started preparing.

Emergency protective measures will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

The federal assistance applies to all 100 North Carolina counties and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In South Carolina, it applies to all 46 counties and the Catawba Indian Nation.

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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: 'Extremely dangerous' Florence strengthening on approach to U.S. coast
'Extremely dangerous' Florence strengthening on approach to U.S. coast
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