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Photo: NOAA via CIRA/RAMMB

Hurricane Florence, currently a Category 4 storm, is going through an astonishingly rapid intensification process, and could hit anywhere from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic by Thursday or Friday.

Driving the news: As of 5 pm ET, Hurricane Florence had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. The official intensity forecast has been raised — now calling for it to peak as a Category 5 storm before weakening slightly as it makes its approach to the coast. All eight of South Carolina's coastal counties will face a mandatory evacuation beginning at noon Tuesday, per The State.

What's happening: Computer models are still projecting a range of landfall locations, so anywhere from South Carolina to Virginia are still in play. This will be a very large storm, with damaging impacts far from the center.

If Florence follows current model projects and official forecasts, it would...

  • Be capable of producing 20-30+ inches of rain in the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic, possibly including the D.C. area. This is a nightmare inland flood scenario.
  • Bring hurricane-force winds for more than a day to a swath of land about 350 miles in diameter or greater, extending well inland from the landfall point. 
  • Drive one of the largest potential storm surges on record onto the Carolina coast.
  • Be one of the strongest hurricanes on record to make landfall in the Carolinas or Mid-Atlantic.
  • Make landfall or come closest to land on Thursday-Friday before stalling for up to three days.

Be smart: This could be a major test of how President Trump handles another multifaceted crisis, this time one that is possibly at his literal doorstep. 

Go deeper

Schumer: Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

Why it matters: Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice for “incitement of insurrection" after a violent pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths.

47 mins ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.