Virginia Beach prepares as Hurricane Florence strengthens to Category 4

Florence is now a hurricane, McMaster advises prep for

Hurricane Florence is plowing toward the East Coast as a Category 4 storm with a 500-mile wing span, forcing dire warnings and mandatory evacuations - including the entire coastline of SC and parts of Virginia and North Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center issued a storm surge and hurricane watch for the east coast from Edisto Beach, South Carolina north towards the North Carolina-Virginia border.

Hurricane Florence, a risky Category 4 hurricane, continued it's slow slog toward the N.C. coast late Monday, with forecasters expecting the storm to strengthen even more before likely weakening before landfall.

According to the noon-time update from the NHC, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Florence now has sustained winds of almost 130 miles per hour and has no become what the agency considers "a major hurricane". These swells will result in life-threatening surf and rip currents.

As it nears the U.S. Atlantic shore, Florence will also benefit from "very warm" sea surface temperatures of up to 85 degrees, the hurricane center said.

The governors of Virginia, Maryland, and North and SC have declared states of emergency ahead of the storm.

"We do not want to risk one SC life in this hurricane", the governor told a press conference.

Meteorologists are forecasting that Florence will continue to pick up speed before making its landfall between SC and North Carolina on Thursday as a category 3 or higher hurricane.

Preparations for Florence come as the Atlantic hurricane season hits its peak.

Despite facing heavy winds late last week, Hurricane Florence beat the odds.

"A high-pressure ridge building to the north and northwest of Florence is expected to steer the hurricane west-northwestward to northwestward at a much faster forward speed over the southwest Atlantic during the next few days".

Florence is now projecting hurricane-force winds (74 mph and higher) up to 30 miles from its center.

We encourage anyone in the path of these storms to prepare themselves and to heed the warnings of State and Local officials.

North Carolina ordered evacuations for the Outer Banks barrier islands, including popular tourist destination Hatteras Island.

Cooper said he asked President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration so that resources will be ready when the storm arrives. "Already we're getting some overwash, the ocean is coming over 12", she said, referring to the islands' main road. Officials in SC reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so that all major roads led away from the sea to speed evacuations.

"With this order government agencies will begin to mobilize in anticipation of a hurricane", McMaster said.

"Right now it's 625 miles South of Bermuda, with 105 mph winds".

If you live along the USA coast from the Southeast to the Mid-Atlantic, you need to prepare for what increasingly looks like a worst case scenario: landfall of a Category 3 or even 4 hurricane.

Major flooding is predicted for a vast swath of land from Roanoke, Virginia to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Here is a look at the earliest arrival time of tropical storm force winds. As of 5 p.m., hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles from the storm's center, while tropical storm-force winds extend out 150 miles. Even inland areas have the potential for Category 1 or 2 storms.

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