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Track Hurricane Florence on its path toward the Carolinas

International Space Station by astronaut Ricky Arnold shows Hurricane Florence over the Atlantic Ocean in the early morning hours of September 6

Even before the evacuation order, Dare County emergency officials warned that rough seas and strong rip currents already were creating risky conditions.

Florence is "quickly becoming a powerful hurricane" the NHC says and predicts it will be a Category 4 storm by tomorrow.

Horry County officials are expected to make an announcement at 3:30 p.m. today. "Theses swells will result in life-threatening surf and rip currents".

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he had asked President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration ahead of the storm.

In an earlier update, officials said Florence's winds could reach 150 mph over the next 36 hours.

In Guam, Typhoon Mangkhut - a Category 4 storm - narrowly missed dealing a direct blow to the island.

Basically, Hurricane Florence is coming in hot.

The center of Florence was forecast to sweep between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday before making its assault on the USA coast.

Florence is expected to strengthen further. Forecasters say because of the size the storm is expected to attain, it will wreak havoc regardless of how strong its winds are.

Now tracking in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of the USA mainland, "A turn toward the northwest is forecast to occur late Wednesday night", the latest NHC dispatch stated. Ilija Cesal told the newspaper he wouldn't worry about buying extra water or other supplies for a few more days.

At a hardware store in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, store manager John Johnson said the rush on batteries, flashlights, plastic tarps and sandbags began Friday.

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It exploded into a Category 4 storm yesterday, carrying winds up to 220km/h and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States this week.

"Satellite data indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 miles per hour (185 km/h) with higher gusts".

"It's nearly certain there will be some impact on Charlotte, but it depends on the track", meteorologist Jake Wimberley said from the weather service's office in Greer, S.C. The office forecasts for the western Carolinas including Charlotte. At present, Hurricane Florence is about 1,400 miles of the coast of Charleston, which is almost as far away as the city is from the Rocky Mountains. Four major roads will reverse their traffic lanes to help facilitate the mass exodus. "Everyone should start preparing now".

This is a good time to download the 13WMAZ app, where we now have a Hurricane App tile to click.

As of early Monday, the storm was getting stronger, with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour. Florence is projected to make landfall on Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In the Outer Banks of North Carolina, mandatory evacuations are taking place on Hatteras Island, according to Dare County Emergency Management. That means, she said, that the Wilmington region is going to be affected by what she said is going to be a major hurricane that could reach category 4 strength, which means maximum sustained winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour.

"I need my stuff for [my] grandbabies - baby food and snacks", she said.

"This is going to be big", said Victoria Oliva, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

The latest GFS model shows Florence staying just offshore, bringing massive amounts of rain and heavy winds to the coast.

The National Hurricane Center is advising people in the hurricane's path to prepare for potentially life-threatening storm surges, freshwater flooding and damaging winds as Florence impacts the U.S. this week.

Virginia, and North and SC have declared states of emergency and authorities as far north as New Jersey are warning people along the coast to take precautions, including for the possibility of flooding rains far inland. Even in areas far from the coast, he added, parts of North Carolina and Virginia could see rain totals of 10-15 inches over the next seven days.