"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday", NHC officials said Monday evening.
"Florence is forecast to rapidly strengthen to a major hurricane by Monday, and is expected to remain an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", the center said.
The northern coast of SC and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are likely to be the areas most impacted by the storm, which could cause $15.32 billion in damage if it stays on its current five-day forecast track, said Chuck Watson, a disaster researcher at Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia. Forecasters said Florence was expected to become an extremely unsafe major hurricane sometime Monday and remain that way for days. But going off the NHC forecast, Florence looks to come well inland to central North Carolina late Thursday and through the day Friday.
Most of the hurricane forecast models analyzed by the National Hurricane Center are in general agreement, but one model remained an outlier Sunday in regard to where Hurricane Florence will make landfall.
Hurricane-force winds could buffet the Carolinas by Wednesday night with landfall likely in SC and North Carolina on Thursday, followed by heavy rains that could cause flooding in much of the U.S. Southeast, the NHC said.
"There is an increasing risk of two life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast and freshwater flooding from a prolonged heavy rainfall event inland", the NHC said Sunday.
Florence crossed the 74 miles per hour threshold from tropical storm to hurricane Sunday morning, and by evening its winds were up to 85 miles per hour (140 kph) as the National Hurricane Center warned it was expected to become an extremely unsafe major hurricane by Monday and remain that way for days.
Earlier Sunday Florence regained its hurricane status and rapid strengthening from here is expected since the storm is encountering less wind shear and warm waters.
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Isaac strengthened into a hurricane Sunday night, hours after Helene, too, became a hurricane. It poses no threat to land at the time, the center said.
The parking lot has been full for three days at the Ace Hardware store in coastal Calabash, North Carolina, where manager Tom Roberts said he sold 150 gas cans in two hours Monday, along with generators, plywood, rope, manual can openers, sand bags and a plethora of other items. "The 12Z Sunday GFS model run also showed this scenario, but the 12Z Sunday UKMET model now has landfall occurring in North Carolina".
Communities along a stretch of coastline that's vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change prepared to evacuate the storm, which forecasters expect to be close to Category 5 strength by Tuesday.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, Florence was tracking west-northwest at 11 mph just less than 1,200 miles east-southeast from Cape Fear, North Carolina. As projected paths for Florence continue to change, Gov. Henry McMaster said during an update Sunday afternoon, "What that means for us in SC is that whatever happens, we're going to have a lot of rain and a lot of wind".
Florencewill probably create more wind than Hurricane Hugo and more water than Hurricane Matthew, McMaster warned.
While the track of Tropical Storm Florence is still uncertain, it appears increasingly likely that Virginia may see significant impacts from this storm this week. As NPR's Bill Chappell reported, the town of Mountain View on the Big Island recorded 51.53 inches of rain as a result of Lane, the third-highest total ever measured from a US storm.
Isaac is moving toward the west near 14 miles per hour. Helene is still a Tropical Storm. Isaac's forward movement was accelerating on a path to cross into the lower Caribbean on Thursday. Weakening is forecast to begin by the middle of the week.