NNA - Hurricane Florence is plowing toward the East Coast as a Category 4 storm with a 500-mile wing span, forcing dire warnings and mandatory evacuations – including the entire coastline of South Carolina and parts of Virginia and North Carolina.
In South Carolina alone, more than 1 million residents and tourists are expected to flee from coastal areas, Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday, vowing that state officials "are not going to gamble" with people's lives.
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. "The last Atlantic hurricane to intensify as rapidly as far north as Florence's current location was Hurricane Humberto in 2007," he said.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he had asked President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration ahead of the storm.
"We here in North Carolina are bracing for a hard hit," Cooper said Monday. "We are taking Hurricane Florence seriously."
As of Monday evening, Florence was 500 miles in diameter, much larger than the typical 300-mile-wide hurricane. While larger than Katrina (which was 415 miles wide), it still has a ways to go to reach the record width of 1,000 miles from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. --- USA Today