Florence is expected to be a major, risky hurricane that will be near the East Coast later next week.
It is now 1,305 miles east of the Windward Islands, which are in the West Indies, and moving westward at 14 mph.
Florence was in the Atlantic about 1,500 miles from the coast and 750 miles from Bermuda, moving west at 6 mph, the center said.
The hurricane center also said that Hurricane Isaac has become the 5th named hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season.
A "major" hurricane is one with sustained winds of more than 110 miles per hour. "Florence continues on a track to impact the USA mainland by Thursday or Friday".
"Florence is. expected to remain an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday", the hurricane center warned.
Early estimates place Florence at a Category 2 or 3 storm if she comes ashore in the Cape Fear area. Other major hurricanes that have made landfall on North Carolina have come up from the south toward the north and made landfall that way.
Helene is moving west-northwest at 13 miles per hour, packing maximum-sustained winds of 85 miles per hour.
Some portions of the Carolinas could see as much as 30 to 40 inches of rain from Florence, the National Weather Service said, which would lead to river flooding that "could last for days or weeks" after the storm.
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Residents as far north as Virginia were warned that Florence posed an increasing risk of generating a life-threatening coastal storm surge, as well as flooding from heavy rainfall should the slow-moving storm stall over the southeast. It is too soon to say where, when or how severe the rainfall might be. Forecast models suggest that more than two feet of rain could fall over the higher elevations of the Carolinas and Virginia, which would generate unsafe flooding downstream.
"This storm is too powerful and its path is too uncertain to take any chances", South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said in issuing his state's emergency declaration.
Across the Southeast, people were urged to put together emergency supply kits, prepare their homes and research evacuation routes. "Action today can avoid losses due to Florence".
Hurricanes have a life cycle, moving from tropical storm to full-on hurricane.
"We don't panic, which is why we are amused that water was so depleted a week out. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months".
"I don't think many of us have ever been through a Category 4".
US Navy ships are also evacuating their ships in the Hampton Roads area to leave the port. The team will be best able to support requests for assistance from local agencies and respond to the storm as needed.
The first effects of what forecasters are already calling a large and extremely unsafe hurricane were already being seen on barrier islands Monday as risky rip currents and seawater flowed over the state highway.
The first effects of what forecasters are already calling a large and extremely risky hurricane were already being seen on barrier islands Monday as unsafe rip currents and seawater flowed over the state highway.