Hurricane Florence path rolls towards U.S. with a million people evacuated

Hurricane Florence as seen from the ISS on Monday morning

Florence grew into a major hurricane on Monday morning and was upgraded again to a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength at midday as its top sustained wind speeds reached 130 miles per hour.

The governors of North and SC and Virginia have all declared states of emergency ahead of the approaching storm.

Florence, the most powerful storm to menace the USA mainland this year, intensified into a Category 4 hurricane as it howled closer to the Carolinas on Monday (Sept 10), prompting evacuations of more than 1 million people to higher ground.

McMaster declared a state of emergency on Saturday, a day after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) made a similar declaration for his state.

A hurricane watch is now in effect for hundreds of miles of the U.S. East Coast, from Edisto Beach in SC up north to the North Carolina-Virginia border. And with little wind shear to pull the storm apart, Florence's hurricane wind field was expected to expand over the coming days, increasing its storm surge and inland wind threats, and raising the likelihood of life-threatening freshwater flooding.

As mandatory evacuations begin for parts of three East Coast states, millions of Americans have been preparing for what could become one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the Eastern Seaboard in decades.

The watch covers the area from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, north to the North Carolina-Virginia border, according to a statement issued Tuesday morning.

Florence appears to have weakened slightly but is expected to restrengthen later on Tuesday, the NHC said. States of emergency are also in effect in Virginia and Maryland.

Arnold also shot the image below of Florence from directly above the storm.

Larry Pierson purchases bottled water in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, in preparation for hurricane Florence.

The category 4 hurricane is now moving to the west at 13 miles per hour and is expected to begin a turn to the northwest by late Wednesday.

Florence is packing maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.

The Atlantic hurricane season that usually starts in June, has now peaks on September 10.

This satellite image taken yesterday shows Hurricane Florence off the U.S. east coast in the Atantic Ocean.

Starting then, all roads on I-26 and Route 501 will be directed away from the coast, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said.

Trump said in a Twitter message he had spoken to the governors of North and SC and Virginia, adding: "Federal government stands by, ready to assist".

Two other storms were spinning in the Atlantic.

Florence is expected to hit the Carolinas and Virginia late Thursday or early Friday.

A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere in the warning area within 36 hours, and a watch within 48 hours.

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