Mandatory Evacuations Ahead of Powerful Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence, now a Category 4 storm, continues to strengthen as it heads for the Mid-Atlantic coast, and state leaders are taking no chances.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicts Florence’s tropical storm-force winds could arrive on the East Coast as early as Wednesday night, but most likely Thursday.

 The blue areas indicate Virginia’s Evacuation Zone A, where everyone has been ordered to leave.
The blue areas indicate Virginia’s Evacuation Zone A, where everyone has been ordered to leave.

Starting 8 a.m. Tuesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered everyone living in “Evacuation Zone A,” to move to higher ground. Zone A includes low-lying areas, like Hampton Roads and Chincoteague.

The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and most recently, the mayor of Washington, D.C., have all declared states of emergency ahead of Florence.

The key message from NHC reads,”A life-threatening storm surge is likely along portions of the coastlines of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.” Life-threatening freshwater flooding is predicted for hundreds of miles inland, as Florence brings a major rainfall event. NHC warns everyone from South Carolina into the Mid-Atlantic to have a storm plan in place. The forecast also notes strong rip currents are expected along the East Coast. For the watches and warnings in effect, read NHC’s updated outlook here.

In Maryland, the Department of Natural Resources lifted time limits for all commercial crabbers on Tuesday and Wednesday, to encourage watermen to get all of their gear out of the water before Florence arrives.

Assateague State Park will shut down from 11 a.m. Wednesday to 2 p.m. on Monday because of expected dangerous conditions.

The U.S. Navy was ordered to move 30 of its ships out of Hampton Roads, to safer parts of the Atlantic, on Monday. Read more details on that here.

-Meg Walburn Viviano