South Carolina Shuts Down and Evacuates as Hurricane Florence Expands

September 11, 2018, 1:32 PM UTC

Walmart stores in Charleston, S.C. shut down indefinitely at midnight last night. And anyone who hops onto the city’s interstate system starting today will have no choice but to evacuate.

It’s a scene that’s playing out all along the eastern seaboard as Hurricane Florence continues to churn towards the coast. The storm, as of Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. EDT, has sustained maximum winds of 130 mph, keeping it as a Category 4, and is still expected to be a major hurricane when it hits land.

Florence continues to gather strength and expand its reach. The storm is in the process of undergoing what’s called an eyewall replacement cycle, which is breaking down the old eyewall and creating a new one. This, say experts, will broaden the storm’s wind field.

The storm is moving to west northwest at 15 mph. Hurricane watches and storm surge watches have been issued from Edisto Beach, S.C. (just south of Charleston) to the North Carolina-Virginia border. Hurricane force winds extend 40 miles from Florence’s eye and tropical storm force winds extend 150 miles.

“Re-strengthening is forecast to occur during the next day or so, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night,” said the National Hurricane Center in its latest update.

The latest NOAA model for the storm adds a new layer of concern for people in the Carolinas, where Florence seems likely to hit at this point. That prediction shows Florence stalling out and looping over or near the North Carolina coastline, which would bring tremendous amounts of rain and potential flooding.

The National Hurricane Center will issue its next update on the storm at 11 a.m. EDT.