Hurricane Florence has rapidly intensified into a Category 4 major hurricane south-southeast of Bermuda and is likely to lash the U.S. East Coast later this week with life-threatening storm surge, destructive winds and massive inland rainfall flooding in one of the strongest strikes on record for this part of the East Coast.
Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicated Florence’s maximum sustained winds had increased to 140 mph late Monday afternoon.
The governors of Virginia, North and South Carolina have issued mandatory evacuation orders affecting hundreds of thousands of residents in coastal areas.
“The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity,” the National Hurricane Center said.
Florence underwent rapid intensification Sunday into Monday, when its winds jumped up from 75 mph to 130 mph in just 25 hours ending 12 p.m. EDT Monday.
Florence’s central pressure also plunged from 969 millibars to 946 millibars on Monday morning, then fell to 939 millibars by late Monday afternoon – an indication of rapid strengthening.
Some additional strengthening is possible, and it’s not out of the question that Florence could come close to Category 5 status for a time.
The Hurricane Center is warning of an “extremely dangerous” triple threat in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, some parts of Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.