Hurricane Florence increased to a Category 4 storm Monday, threatening coastal North Carolina and forcing evacuation of Hatteras Island, a popular vacation and camping destination, reported USA Today.
Dare County, a coastal North Carolina county, on Monday issued a mandatory evacuation order for its entire population as Hurricane Florence strengthened and continued its slow but angry advance toward the U.S. East Coast.
The National Hurricane Center said Florence is 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 130 mph on Monday.
The hurricane roared from a Category 1 (90 mph) to a Category 4 (130 mph) in just the past 13 hours, an extremely rapid intensification, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach. “The last Atlantic hurricane to intensify as rapidly as far north as Florence’s current location was Hurricane Humberto in 2007,” he said.
“We here in North Carolina are bracing for a hard hit,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday. “We are taking Hurricane Florence seriously.”
Dare County has a year-round population of more than 30,000 people, but the population balloons during tourist seasons. It was not immediately clear how many people were being evacuated.
The hurricane center’s description of a Category 4 hurricane begins with “catastrophic damage will occur.” The center warns that such storms will snap or uproot most trees and down power poles and that power can be out in some areas for weeks or months.
“This is a very scary rain event potentially setting up this week,” AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rossi said. “Florence could dump a foot of rain in places that cannot handle it, making for a very scary flooding situation in some areas.”