SC declares emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Florence

Hurricane Florence scenarios

As of 5 p.m. Monday, Florence was tracking west-northwest at 11 mph just less than 1,200 miles east-southeast from Cape Fear, North Carolina.

North Carolina has a strong statute against price gouging - charging too much during a time of crisis - that is tied directly to a declaration of a state of emergency.

The school said it has cancelled all university-sponsored events including athletics and Alumni Weekend, which would have started Friday.

Concerns about the monster storm extended even into Virginia.

Communities along a stretch of coastline that's vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change prepared to evacuate the storm, which forecasters expect to be close to Category 5 strength by Tuesday. The evacuation zone includes the most flood-prone coastal areas, Northam said.

Florence was upgraded Monday to Category 3, and then quickly to Category 4.

Forecasters say Tropical Storm Florence has turned into a hurricane and is swirling toward the East Coast for what could be a direct hit toward the end of the week.

Tropical Storm Florence turned into a hurricane Sunday morning and swirled toward the USA for what forecasters said could be a direct hit on the Southeast toward the end of the week.

By noon Monday, Florence had top sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.

Loewenthal said the area should prepare to see impacts, including rough surf and unsafe rip currents, as early as Sunday.

"Red, no-swimming flags are flying, and everyone must stay out of the water", Dare County Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson said.

A Hurricane Warning has been issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

"This is very scary rain event potentially setting up this week", Rossi said. Forecast models suggest that more than two feet of rain could fall over the higher elevations of the Carolinas and Virginia, which would generate risky flooding downstream. In Maryland, where some coastal areas are still recovering from weather Gov. Larry Hogan said flooding could be catastrophic if it hits the state.

"All of the evidence points to an extreme disaster in the making in the mid-East Coast/Carolina region", said Bryan Norcross, a senior hurricane specialist with the Weather Channel.

US Navy ships are also evacuating their ships in the Hampton Roads area to leave the port.

Virginia has declared a state of emergency Saturday in anticipation of Tropical Storm Florence and its potential impact, according to a statement from Gov. Ralph Northam.

It cites a recommendation from state agricultural commissioner Steve Troxler that the storm presents "an imminent threat of severe economic loss of livestock, poultry or crops ready to be harvested".

"We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst", Hogan said.

Hurricane Isaac is holding steady in strength over the Atlantic. And with little wind shear to pull the storm apart, Florence's hurricane wind field was expected to expand over the coming days, increasing its storm surge and inland wind threats along with life-threatening freshwater flooding.

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