Hurricane Florence has grown to a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm Monday as it closed in on North and SC, carrying winds and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States later this week.
Storm over the Atlantic ocean "looks very bad", wrote in his Twitter the President of the United States Donald trump. "Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months".
Florence will hover just offshore for more than 24 hours, the prediction said, before the eye crosses the shoreline, which is the technical definition of landfall. And heavy rains could cause flooding inland for days after landfall.
The NHC said Florence is 1,170 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear in North Carolina, moving west-northwest at 13 mph.
A mandatory evacuation order takes effect Tuesday at noon in eight counties along South Carolina's 187-mile coastline. Lanes traveling on I-26 between Charleston and Columbia will all travel away from Charleston toward Columbia. "It's going to destroy homes", said Jeff Byard, an official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah said all nuclear power plants in the area were preparing but that Duke Energy Corp's Brunswick and Harris plants in North Carolina were most likely to be affected and, if Florence turns north, Dominion Energy Inc's Surry plant in Virginia. She said it was built in 2009 in Buxton, North Carolina, up on a ridge, and made to withstand a hurricane. Many more were left to wonder where they might be safe if days of torrential rains unleash floods from the mountains to the sea. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centers to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.
Some tourists and residents were still outside enjoying pleasant weather as forecasters said computer models narrowed the grim target with clearer consensus.
American is waiving its change fees - which can cost $200 or more - flor customers ticketed to fly to 23 airports in Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas.
A Category 4 hurricane has winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour on the Saffir-Simpson Scale of Hurricane Intensity.
Wall Street was sniffing out companies that could gain or lose at the storm's hands.
Numerous large trees snapped or uprooted along with fences and roadway signs blown over.
States of emergency were declared in the Carolinas; Virginia; Washington, DC; and Maryland, where some coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.
Jones urged Chatham County residents to continue to monitor Florence and be generally prepared for hurricanes with a hurricane kit, shelter-in-place supplies and an evacuation plan.
"Action today can avoid losses due to Florence", he said. Two other storms also are churning in the Atlantic.
As for a hit on the US mainland, the most recent Cat 4 at landfall was Hurricane Harvey previous year, which hit Texas with winds of 130 miles per hour.
"It's on par with the storms we flew past year, like Maria and Irma", Kibbey said.