Hurricane Florence has strengthened to be “an extremely dangerous, major hurricane” when it makes landfall later this week.
Current models show North Carolina and South Carolina will face the brunt of the storm by Thursday night or early Friday. Florence is now predicted to intensify to a Category 4 when it moves ashore, with winds of 111 to 130 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Forecasters also warned the storm could slow or stall, dumping heavy rainfall leading to storm surge at the coast and freshwater flooding.
Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have already declared states of emergency.
As of 5 a.m. Monday, Florence’s maximum sustained winds were measured at 105 mph, and the storm’s center was about 1,000 miles southeast of Bermuda, according to the National Hurricane Center. The center also warned of large swells affecting Bermuda, causing life-threatening surf rip currents.
The center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, before making its way toward the southeastern coast.
Delta’s Atlanta (ATL) and American Airlines’ Charlotte (CLT), two major airline hubs, are potentially in the path of the storm. Airlines have not begun issuing waivers as of yet, but they are monitoring the storm, with announcements likely to come later in the week. Delta Air Lines said, “It is too soon to determine the exact location, magnitude and timing of Florence's impact to the airports and communities Delta serves.”
Cruise lines, however, are rerouting their ships.
The Carnival Pride was scheduled to head to Bermuda during a week-long cruise, but will instead stop in the Bahamas's Half Moon Cay, along with Grand Turk and Freeport. Carnival Horizon canceled plans to visit San Juan in Puerto Rico on Sunday, and is instead visiting Amber Cove.
In addition, in order to avoid Tropical Storm Isaac, the cruise line reversed the schedule for Carnival Vista. The ship will call on St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan and Amber Cove before returning to Miami on Sept. 16.
Norwegian Escape, scheduled to depart from New York City on Sept. 9, will now call at Florida's Port Canaveral (Orlando), Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, the line's private island in the Bahamas. It was originally going to spend three days in Bermuda's King's Wharf next week. Norwegian Dawn, which departed from Boston on September 7, was also scheduled to visit King's Wharf. It will now sail a Canada and New England itinerary.
Royal Caribbean announced that due to Hurricane Florence's forecasted track, Grandeur of the Seas will wait out the storm in Port Canaveral, Florida until it is safe to return to Baltimore.
"The ship will have a full day in Nassau, Bahamas on Tuesday, September 11th, and will then set sail to Port Canaveral, Florida where she will be in port on Wednesday, September 12th and Thursday, September 13th. We expect Grandeur to arrive in Baltimore no later than Sunday, Sept. 16," the company said.
The scheduled Sept. 13 Grandeur of the Seas sailing is being finalized pending the return of the ship to Baltimore.