Mass evacuations ahead of Hurricane Florence are still taking place while residents and tourists hope to evade what could be the strongest hurricane in decades to strike the East Coast. Ahead of what is projected to be massive devastation for several Southeast states, NASA has released high-definition footage of the storm as viewed from the International Space Station above the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a horrifying spectacle to behold, and the hurricane hasn’t even struck land yet.
CNN reports dire word from FEMA associate administrator Jeff Byard, who warns that this storm is not to be reckoned with. “This is not going to be a glancing blow,” Byard explained. “This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast.” As of now, Florence is due to make landfall very early Friday morning, somewhere in the Carolinas. This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and South Carolina but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend.
Florence’s strength, which caused it to jump from a Category 2 to 4 within hours on Monday morning (and it’s still holding with sustained winds of 130 mph) will be even further intensified by a slight shift (to the left) in its path and a projected pause before landfall, via CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers:
Florence’s predicted pause and slow southward turn off North Carolina on Friday means some coastal areas will get damaging hurricane-force winds for more than 24 hours. “If this blows at 120 mph for four hours, … you lose a shingle every two minutes, and all of the sudden, you’ve lost your whole roof after four hours,” Myers said.
The storm could cause a life-threatening storm surge, essentially walls of water, ahead of landfall which is why FEMA warns that Wednesday is the last feasible day to evacuate areas vulnerable to the storm. Upon its arrival, the National Hurricane Center projects that Florence could drop anywhere from 20-40 inches of rain along the Carolina coast. Recovery could take weeks or months.
If anyone left out there doubts Florence’s sheer capacity to wreak havoc in the coming days, this NOAA satellite image (from former NASA scientist and Professor Marshall Shepherd) should do the convincing. Stay safe, everyone.