Tropical Storm Florence turned into a hurricane Sunday morning and swirled toward the USA for what forecasters said could be a direct hit on the Southeast toward the end of the week.
Governors in Virginia, North Carolina and SC have all declared states of emergency over the past two days in anticipation of the storm.
None of these storms have ever hit the USA and therefore, if Florence does strike North or SC, it would be a historic moment.
The National Hurricane Center announced Sunday morning that Florence escalated into a hurricane with winds reaching 75mph as it swirls across the Atlantic.
The major hurricane is expected to travel between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday before reaching the U.S. on Thursday.
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The storm brings with it an increasing risk of two life-threatening impacts: storm surge along the coast and freshwater flooding from prolonged rains, the hurricane center said.
Swells generated by Florence could cause unsafe rip currents and coastal flooding Saturday in areas including coastal DE and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.
As of 5 a.m. EDT, Florence was centered about 625 miles (1,005 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, moving west at 9 mph (15 kph).
The storm had been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm last week before it began to strengthen again over the Atlantic late Friday. It should accelerate over the next 36 hours, but poses no threat to land at this time.
The size of hurricane-force winds doubled over 12 hours from 30 to 60 miles across, the National Hurricane Center said Monday afternoon.
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"It could approach the coast as far south as Georgia, or as far north as Virginia, and if we're really lucky it will stay away from the coast altogether", said Moss. Monday is the climatological peak date of hurricane season, the height of the eight-week period when the most powerful storms usually form, CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said. As of Saturday evening, the hurricane was 1,190 miles east of Honolulu.
"Everyone in North Carolina needs to keep a close eye on Florence and take steps now to get ready for impacts later this week", Cooper said.
Elsewhere in the tropics, officials say Tropical Storm Helene is approaching islands off the western coast of Africa.
At a press conference with the state's Emergency Management Division director Kim Stenson, McMaster told residents to follow a "Hurricane Guide" and prepare their homes.
The National Hurricane Center warned a hurricane hunter plane found the storm strengthening quickly.
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US Navy ships are also evacuating their ships in the Hampton Roads area to leave the port.