Hurricane Florence intensified Monday, becoming a Category 4 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center (National Hurricane Center).
Florence is approaching the North Carolina coast, where it’s forecast to make landfall Friday afternoon, the (NHC) said. After landfall, it could sit around for days, unloading life-threatening amounts of rain and catastrophic winds.
Florence is approximately 350 miles southwest of Bermuda and around 670 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, as of 11 p.m. ET, according to the NHC.
The center says the storm is moving west-northwest at 17 mph, and has maximum sustained winds of about 140 mph.
This storm is nothing like you’ve ever seen, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster.
“On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas through Wednesday, and approach the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday,” the (National Hurricane Center) says.
More than 1 million people are under mandatory evacuations in the Carolinas and Virginia, and about 30 million across the Southeast will be affected if the forecast holds, meteorologist said.
The (NHC) issued an ominous warning.
States of emergency were declared by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser for the nation’s capital; requested by Virginia’s governor; and approved by President Donald Trump for North and South Carolina on Monday.
In South Carolina, traffic in all lanes of Interstate 26 from Charleston to Columbia has been directed away from the coast, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said.
Traffic also has been directed away from the coast on parts of US 501, McMaster said. Some schools in inland counties will be used as shelters.
Families with pets were urged to board them with veterinarians, kennels or other facilities in nonvulnerable areas.
“Pets are not allowed inside Red Cross evacuation shelters,” McMaster said.
In Virginia, mandatory evacuations began Tuesday for about 245,000 residents in a portion of the Eastern Shore area.