Hurricane Florence strengthens to potentially 'catastrophic' Category 4 storm

Graphic illustration and forecast of Tropical Storm Isaac as at September 9 2018

Graphic illustration and forecast of Tropical Storm Isaac as at September 9 2018

The hurricane, which earlier Monday strengthened to a category 4, is expected to make landfall somewhere in SC or North Carolina later this week.

Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to strengthen to a hurricane soon, and will likely impact the Lesser Antilles by the middle of this week. This storm is located approximately 1,170 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. 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.

Where is the hurricane now?

Florence continued its west-northwest crawl toward the southeastern US coast, packing maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour.

If the storm makes landfall in North Carolina as a category 4, it would be the strongest storm on record to hit the United States that far north.

The NHC issued a warning Monday morning, explaining when powerful gusts may approach.

Florence is also a large storm, with hurricane force winds extending out 30 miles and tropical storm force winds extending out 140 miles from the center, which means any landfall would see a wide area affected and with days to go before any landfall could occur Florence will likely grow in size as well as strength.

What else should I know?

"We are preparing for the worst, and of course hoping for the best", South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said, as reported by CNN.

It warned the storm would be "an extremely unsafe major hurricane" by the time it made landfall, forecast in the Carolinas on Thursday.

Larry Hogan said officials were "preparing for the potential of historic, catastrophic and life-threatening flooding".

NASA astronaut and current International Space Station resident Ricky Arnold was able to capture the sheer breadth of Hurricane Florence, while showcasing Isaac and an outer band of Helene in new photos posted on Twitter Monday.

US President Donald Trump, whose administration faced severe criticism for a slow response in Puerto Rico to Hurricane Maria, cancelled a political rally planned for Friday in Jackson, Mississippi, over safety concerns related to Florence, his campaign said.

Most of the projected paths show Florence making landfall in North Carolina.

The 2018 hurricane season lasts until November 30. While Helene is forecast to slide out to sea away from land, Isaac is a very real threat the the Caribbean later this week, the hurricane center said. A "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft recorded maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.

Over the next 36 hours, Florence's winds could reach 150 mph, the hurricane center says. Further, residents and tourists should expect heavy prolonged rain upon the storm's arrival.

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