Hurricane Florence

image of the unfathomably huge, swirling hurricane viewed from the International Space Station
Astronaut Rickey Arnold took this photo of Hurricane Florence
from the International Space Station on 9/10. Credit: NASA.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for more than a million people in the Carolinas and parts of Virginia as Hurricane Florence heads toward the U.S. east coast. If you are in the areas for which evacuations have been ordered, please heed them for your own safety.

Here is some of the latest news...

John Bacon and Doyle Rice at USA Today: More Than 1 Million to Flee as Hurricane Florence Rips Toward East Coast. "The National Hurricane Center said Florence was expected to slam into the coast around North and South Carolina as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane on Thursday or Friday. The storm's winds had increased to 140 mph by Monday afternoon. The hurricane roared from a Category 1 (90 mph) to a Category 4 (130 mph) in just 13 hours, an extremely rapid intensification, Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach said."

Emanuella Grinberg, Kaylee Hartung, and Paul P. Murphy at CNN: Hurricane Florence Prompts Mandatory Evacuations as It Nears Category 5 Strength. "Florence became a hurricane Sunday with sustained winds of at least 74 mph. By Monday morning, the hurricane center classified Florence as a 'major' Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph. It was picking up speed over the Atlantic's warm waters, causing concerns about landfall and flooding from heavy rains afterward, possibly late Thursday or Friday. About an hour after the Category 3 upgrade, the storm was reclassified once again, now as Category 4. That means sustained winds of at least 130 mph and expectations of catastrophic damage, the hurricane center says."

Mark Price at the Charlotte Observer: 'Life-Threatening' Florence Spawns First Hurricane Watches, Could Bring 30" of Rain. "The National Hurricane Center issued its first set of Hurricane and Storm Surge Watches Tuesday for the East Coast as Hurricane Florence continues its trek toward North Carolina. The 'extremely dangerous major hurricane' is predicted to hit the coast late Thursday or early Friday morning, dropping as much as 30 inches of rain in some areas, says the National Hurricane Center. ...A Storm Surge watch means the possibility of 'life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland' over the next 48 hours. 'Additional watches may be required later today,' said the National Hurricane Center, warning inland areas have as much to worry about as the coast. 'The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.'"

Rachel Gutman at the Atlantic: Hurricane Florence Could Be the Worst Storm to Ever Hit North of Florida. "According to Chip Konrad, the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Southeast Regional Climate Center and an assistant professor of geography at the University of North Carolina, Florence's historic winds are a 'huge threat' to the region, especially in areas that lie farther inland, where trees and infrastructure are less accustomed to violent gusts. In terms of lives lost, though, the biggest danger from Florence is more likely to come from flooding than high winds, Konrad said. ...While Florence is parked [inland], it could unload up to 32 inches of rain onto parts of North Carolina and Virginia, which usually only see around 40 to 50 inches in a given year."

Between the winds, the coastal storm surges, falling trees, damaged infrastructure, flooding, and flash floods, there are so many things that can go wrong here — and that's before the possibility of widespread loss of electricity and/or access to clean water.

I am not a praying person, but I desperately hope that the storm does not meet current expectations; that large-scale evacuations become nothing but an inconvenience that wasn't necessary after all; that everyone here and in other parts of Hurricane Florence's path are safe.

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