Florence strengthened into a hurricane again Sunday as forecasters warned the menacing storm could deliver a brutal hit along the East Coast by the end of the week.
Virginia joined North and South Carolina in declaring a state of emergency ahead of the storm, which is expected to be a major hurricane. Major hurricanes are those reaching Category 3 or higher, meaning sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour. The storm is forecast to make landfall along the North Carolina coast sometime Thursday as a Category 3 or 4 storm.
“Forecasts increasingly expect the storm to strengthen into a major hurricane that could seriously affect the East Coast and Virginians,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in his emergency decree late Saturday.
The hurricane center says Category 3 storms can bring “devastating” damage. Homes can be damaged, trees uprooted and electricity and water can be knocked out for “several days to weeks.”
Category 4 storms, with winds of at least 130 mph, can cause “catastrophic” damage, the hurricane center said, snapping trees, and toppling power polls. Power outages can last months and affected areas can be be “uninhabitable for weeks or months,” the hurricane center says.
The storm will be crashing through a region already sodden from heavy rains, making flooding a major concern. The governors urged residents to assemble emergency kits including food, water, medications, pet supplies and important documents that might be needed if evacuations are necessary.
Now is the time for your family also to prepare and stay tuned for more updates,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said. “Plan for the worst, pray for the best.”
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