Updated:September 11, 2018 4:30PM

Hurricane Florence

Florence is a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased near 140 mph with higher gusts. Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.

While some weakening is expected on Thursday, Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through landfall.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for Edisto Beach South Carolina to the North Carolina-Virginia border and Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico River

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Edisto Beach South Carolina to the North Carolina-Virginia border and Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water has the potential to reach the following heights above ground if peak surge occurs at the time of high tide...

  • Edisto Beach to Murrells Inlet...2-4 ft
  • Murrells Inlet to Cape Fear...4-6 ft
  • Cape Fear to Cape Lookout including The Neuse and Pamlico River...6-12 ft
  • Cape Lookout to Ocracoke Inlet...5-8 ft
  • Ocracoke Inlet to North Carolina/Virginia Border...3-5 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. 

Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 20 inches with isolated maxima to 30 inches near the storm's track over portions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic States from late this week into early next week. This rainfall could produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding.

Hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area by late Thursday or Thursday night, with tropical storm conditions possible by Thursday morning.

Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Impact Updates:

  • I-26 (running inland from Charleston, SC) set up contraflow today at NOON
  • NC: evacuations expanding
  • SC: Several public schools and government offices closed today; mandatory evacuations in effect for all zones in all coastal counties; 44 shelters open

Response Updates:

FEMA activated the National Response Coordination Center in Washington DC

Incident Management Support Teams are in place in North and South Carolina, and will be arriving in Virginia and Pennsylvania today, ahead of Hurricane Florence. Incident Management Support Teams are also deployed to the St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide support in advance of Hurricane Isaac.

Today, the President declared an emergency for the Commonwealth of Virginia at the request of Governor Ralph Northam.  FEMA is authorized to provide emergency protective measures (Categories B), limited to direct federal assistance, under the Public Assistance Program at 75 percent federal funding to support the entire Commonwealth, in preparation for Hurricane Florence.

And in the Gulf of Mexico:

Satellite images and surface observations indicate that the area of disturbed weather located over the extreme northwestern Caribbean Sea and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico is gradually becoming better organized.  Ship reports indicate that this system is producing strong gusty winds over the Yucatan Channel. Upper-level winds are forecast to become more conducive for development, and a tropical depression is likely to form by Thursday night while the disturbance moves across the western Gulf of Mexico. Interests across northeastern Mexico and the coasts of Texas and Louisiana should monitor the progress of this system. 

Response in the Pacific:

Damage assessments are ongoing in Guam to assess potential storm damage. U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue capabilities are arriving today in Hawaii. FEMA Urban Search & Rescue Teams, including swift water rescue are also staged throughout Hawaii.

Shelters are open and occupied in the Northern Marinara Islands and Guam. Public water tanks in Saipan are locked down pending damage assessments to electrical corrections. Approximately 40 percent of Sinapalo residents experiencing water service issues, but all other water systems are reported operational. Additional water, food and communications equipment arriving today in Guam. Aircraft with a re-supply of water and meals are off shore for delivery as soon as airfields reopen.

Federal Health Coordinating Officials and HHS Incident Management Teams actively engaged with state/local governments and stakeholders in Hawaii and Guam to monitor developments and forecast future needs.

Island wide power outages are occurring in the Northern Marinara Islands, and partial outages also reported in Saipan with restoration underway.

FEMA Mobile Emergency Response Support is on the ground in both Guam and the Northern Marinara Islands to support unmet communications needs.

All ports in the Northern Marinara Islands and Guam are closed. Airports in Hawaii and the Saipan airport are open. Commercial flights in and out of Guam have been canceled or suspended.

Wastewater plants are on backup power in Guam; 80 percent of sewer plants in the Northern Marinara Islands have generators.

How to Stay Safe:

Below are some safety tips for power outages and flooding. Take time to prepare yourselves, your families, and others for this storm and stay tuned for the latest information from your local officials. Residents and visitors should expect that services will be disrupted for an extended period of time.

Power Outage Preparation

  • Take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity, including personal medical equipment.
    • Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
  • Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out.
  • Sign up for local alerts and community warning systems, including Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).
  • Monitor weather reports for the latest on the storm’s forecast.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home.
  • Only use generators outdoors and away from windows.
  • Check on your neighbors – make sure they are safe and prepared.
  • Determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will last.
  • Review the supplies that are available in case of a power outage. Have flashlights with extra batteries for every household member. Have enough nonperishable food and water.
  • Use a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer so that you can know the temperature when the power is restored. Throw out food if the temperature is 40 degrees or higher.
  • Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tanks full.


  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood watersTURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!
    • Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.
    • Determine how best to protect yourself based on the type of flooding. Evacuate if told to do so, move to higher ground or a higher floor, or stay where you are.
    • Never drive around barricades. Local responders use them to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
  • Listen to Emergency Alert System (EAS), NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
  • Depending on where you are, and the impact and the warning time of flooding, go to the safe location that you previously identified.

General Preparedness


  • Restock emergency preparedness kits with food and water.
  • Refill gas tanks and stock vehicles with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.
  • Bring patio furniture and garbage cans inside; they could become dangerous in high winds.
  • Get prescription refills if needed.
  • Have cash on hand.

Tips as the Storms Get Closer:

  • Life threatening coastal and inland flooding is possible. Be aware of quickly moving water and flooded roads.
  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Do not drive around barricades, or through high water. Remember, turn around, don’t drown!
  • Know how you will communicate with family members once the storm passes. You can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, text instead of calling because phone lines are often overloaded.

Learn more about how you can prepare by visiting and en Español at

Download the FEMA App to locate and get directions to open shelters across the state, and receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States. 






Download the FEMA and NOAA apps to stay updated.

Have a hurricane emergency kit ready. PLAN NOW!

Always follow recommended action from local officials, such as evacuating and/or staying indoors.

Never enter/drive into standing water in the event of flooding.



Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit.

Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power or become separated from loved ones. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.

Review your evacuation plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.

Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies, especially extra drinking water, blankets, and a change of clothes.

Ensure important documents and phone numbers are secure in water- and fire-proof containers, or backed up electronically.

Make sure you have a plan for your pets as well.


  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day and non-perishable food for at least three days
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio, flashlight and extra batteries for both
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
  • Basic first aid kit and prescription medication


Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions, and make sure key emergency numbers are saved and accessible.

Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.

Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.


Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power. 


If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.

Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.

Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.

Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.


Listen to local officials for updates and instructions, and only return home when it is safe.

Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.

Watch out for debris and downed power lines.

Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away. Downed power lines may also electrically charge the water.

Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.

Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.