Hurricane Florence is carrying winds of up to 140 miles per hour as a Category 4 storm. At around 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced that Hurricane Florence had strengthened to a Category 4 storm.
Over in the Pacific, this storm is still moving toward Hawaii, where tropical storm warnings and watches have been issued, the hurricane center said.
Forecasters said Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic, between Bermuda and the Bahamas, Tuesday and Wednesday - and approach the Carolina coast Thursday. It's expected to strike far above the point where Hurricane Hazel arrived close to the South Carolina/North Carolina border in October 1954.
Schools, state government offices and medical facilities will be evacuated, too, McMaster said.
"Based on that information, I have made a decision to order a mandatory evacuation of Zone A in Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore", Northam said Monday. "Everyone in Virginia needs to prepare", he said.
Residents of coastal areas boarded up homes and packed their bags as they braced for Florence's arrival.
The National Hurricane Center predicts Florence will reach the East Coast as early as Wednesday night, and its winds are nearing 140 miles per hour.
Similar scenes were repeated up and down the US East Coast, from Virginia to Savannah, Georgia.
Don't go stocking up on water bottles and batteries just yet. Little change in strength is forecast during the next couple of days, and Olivia is expected to remain a hurricane through Monday night.
Florence is also expected to bring heavy rains, but the storm surge map does not take that flooding into account.
However, the National Hurricane Center predicts it could rise to 150 miles per hour winds just before landfall sometime Thursday night. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted.
"Hurricane Florence has the potential to cause catastrophic flooding, especially in our coastal areas", Governor Northam said in a statement. The order will extend to all of Dare County beginning Tuesday morning.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster evoked the memory of 1989's Hurricane Hugo, which killed 27 people in the state, in urging people to obey his evacuation order.
Florence could nearly double that price tag with total losses reaching $27 billion, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia.
"We've got a major hurricane hitting the southeastern United States.... Storm Surge and Hurricane watches are likely be issued for portions of these areas on Tuesday", said the NHC. Much of what we've heard so far relies on the upper limits of this hurricane being reached. The first shows the probability of tropical storm force winds and the second map shows the probability of hurricane force winds.
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