The National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Florence was rapidly intensifying early Monday, and was expected to become an "extremely risky major hurricane" through Thursday. "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. At landfall, Florence will also slow down so flooding becomes the third threat.
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.
Over the next 36 hours, Florence's winds could reach 150 mph, the hurricane center says.
"Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC 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.
At 5 p.m., the storm was centered 785 miles (1,260 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph). Helene will slowly weaken and could impact the Azores as a tropical storm late this weekend.
Hurricanes Florence, Isaac and Helene are all gaining strength as they churn through warm waters in the Atlantic Ocean towards eastern U.S. states and Caribbean islands.
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A warm ocean gives hurricanes their fuel, and Florence is moving over an area with water temperatures nearing 85 degrees (30 Celsius), hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote. The video also includes still images from NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold, who photographed the storm from the ISS. So far, the storm has caused the death of at least 19 people in North Carolina and destroyed thousands of homes in it's path.
The tropical Atlantic and tropical Pacific will be very busy this week, with preparations underway as Hurricane Florence threatens the Carolinas later this week, while Tropical Storm Issac threatens the Leeward Islands of the eastern Caribbean later this week.
A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area. generally within 48 hours. But the large storm's tropical storm-force winds could start to reach the coast of the Carolinas as early as Wednesday night, the National Hurricane Center said.
We'll just have to wait and see where all of them go.
Forecasters urged residents from SC to the mid-Atlantic to get ready - and not just for a direct blow against the coast.
She says the company is bringing in up to 2,000 workers from Florida and the Midwest to augment its 4,600 workers in North Carolina and SC. "There is no way to be completely safe", but going inland might not be much safer.