TROPICS: Florence expected to produce damaging winds in Carolinas

Three storms churned in the Atlantic Ocean on Sept. 8 2018.               National Hurricane Center

Florence was moving west-northwest at 13 miles per hour and had maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.

Hurricane Florence is rapidly intensifying and could strike a direct and risky blow anywhere from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic region later this week, possibly as a fearsome category 4, forecasters said.

Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 miles per hour (220 kph) as it moved west-northwest at 13 miles per hour (20 kph).

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified a photo of hurricane Florence as one of hurricane Helene; astronaut Ricky Arnold did not share a photo of the latter storm on Twitter.

With winds of over 105mph, Florence is category 2 hurricane.

Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Isaac, Hurricane Helene track in Atlantic Ocean. The storm was located roughly 1,170 miles east-southeast of the Cape Fear region, and remained a risky Category 4 storm.

The governor of Maryland has declared a state of emergency in preparation for significant flooding from Hurricane Florence.

Florence isn't the only storm in the sea though.

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In addition, the National Hurricane Center said that it will likely issue watches for "life-threatening storm surge" across three states. Seven-day rainfall totals are forecast to reach 10 to 20 inches over much of North Carolina and Virginia, and even 30 inches in some places. "The threat will be inland, so I'm afraid, based on my experience at FEMA, that the public is probably not as prepared as everybody would like", said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

It has been a quieter-than-average hurricane season so far, but things are picking up in a big way: three hurricanes are churning in the Atlantic, with Hurricane Florence rapidly approaching the US East Coast. A turn toward the northwest is forecast to occur late Wednesday night as it approaches the coast of SC and North Carolina on Thursday.

Forecasts call for between 25 and 38 cm of rain in the hardest-hit areas, possibly more if the storm stalls over land, as expected, Graham said.

And the timing couldn't be more apt: Monday was the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, when storm activity has historically been at its highest. 2018 is on track to be a slight above-average year for the basin, with 23 named storms thus far, two of which - Barijat, and the super typhoon Mangkhut - are headed for the southern coast of China or northern Vietnam later this week into thew weekend.

Tropical storm force winds extend 80 miles from the center. The Carolinas and Virginia are set to see the most impact from this storm as of now.

But Hurricane Florence is not alone in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Weakening is forecast to begin by the middle of the week as Isaac approaches the Lesser Antilles", the NHC said, urging residents in the Windward Islands - Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines - to pay particular attention to the storm.

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