Tropical Storm Warning Issued for Maui, Hawaiʻi Counties

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell listens to a reporter’s question during a press conference today

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell listens to a reporter’s question during a press conference today

Florence, packing winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kph), was expected to grow even stronger before making landfall on Thursday, mostly likely in southeastern North Carolina near the SC border, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Hurricane Florence is gearing up to pound the eastern USA coastline as it racks up maximum winds of 220 km/h, making it an "extremely dangerous" storm system which strength is only expected to grow.

The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia on Sunday declared states of emergency, as residents and local governments alike braced for Florence's wrath.

National Hurricane Centre director Ken Graham warned that Florence is forecast to linger over the Carolinas once it reaches shore.

The National Hurricane Center warned on Twitter that there may be a high risk of "storm surge at the coast and freshwater flooding from a prolonged heavy rainfall event inland".

He wrote: "My people just informed me that this is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years".

Both of the Carolinas and Virginia ordered mandatory evacuations for some of their residents starting at noon Tuesday and over a million people are expected to flee.

Immediately to the north of Virginia, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said his state was also "preparing for the potential of historic, catastrophic and life-threatening flooding". Florence was upgraded twice Monday to a Category 4. "Damaging hurricane-force winds are likely along portions of the coasts of SC and North Carolina, and a Hurricane Watch will likely be issued by Tuesday morning". At the time, Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale (which classifies hurricanes by strength on a scale of 1 to 5).

Trump slams damning New York Times op-ed as ‘gutless’
The op-ed represents a "national security" issue, Trump claimed to reporters aboard Air Force One today, according to the Associated Press .

The commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command directed almost 30 ships to steam away from the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia, home to Naval Station Norfolk.

"They cancelled school for the rest of the week here, so we'll probably head out later today or tomorrow", one man said.

The US Navy said it was preparing to send about 30 ships stationed in Virginia out to sea.

Maximum sustained winds are near 85 miles per hour (140 km/h) with higher gusts.

Meanwhile, two other storms were also spinning in the Atlantic.

The National Hurricane Center says a new report from an Air Force Reserve Unit hurricane hunter aircraft indicates that Hurricane Florence's top sustained winds have decreased slightly to 130 miles per hour (215 kph), with higher gusts.

Perhaps surprisingly, prior to Hurricane Harvey's arrival last year, the US mainland went a record 12 years without a major hurricane making landfall.

This week is the expected peak of hurricane season, according to forecasters, so seeing these active storms churning through the Atlantic right now isn't fully unexpected.

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