Hurricane watch issued for parts of East Coast as Florence moves in

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

Hurricane Florence will hit the southeastern U.S.as "a large and extremely risky hurricane", the National Hurricane Center says, after the storm quickly strengthened on Monday.

Large swells generated by Florence are already affecting Bermuda and portions of the East Coast and will continue this week, the hurricane center said.

The National Hurricane Center said on Sunday night that the storm could remain powerful as it passes over the U.S. mainland, and could penetrate as far as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Where is the hurricane now?

Florence is projected to make landfall on Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center. A major hurricane is a storm with sustained winds greater than 110 miles-per-hour. And the timing couldn't be more apt: Monday was the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, when storm activity has historically been at its highest.

"Florence is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale", it noted.

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 USA this week.

What else should I know?

In addition to flooding the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 12 feet (3.7 m), Florence could drop 20 inches to as much as 30 inches (51 cm to 76 cm) of rain in places, forecasters said.

The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia declared states of emergency over the weekend. North Carolina Emergency Management teams are working with county agencies and federal partners to procure resources ahead of the storm.

North Carolina residents boarded up their homes and piled cars with valuables on Monday after officials in that state and two others warned coastal areas would be hit from Hurricane Florence, the most powerful storm to take aim at the U.S. mainland this year. As of mid-day on Monday, Florence was located more than 1,200 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving to the west.

The vessels will get underway from Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek to avoid potential damage from winds and tidal surges, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said.

There are three storms that meteorologists have their eyes on and there's likely more to come.

"Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter indicate that Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen and has maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour", the National Hurricane Center tweeted around 11:30 a.m.

Obviously the forecast at this point isn't 100 percent certain, but even the deviant courses aren't very far off from the main prediction.

Ryan Deeck, a Walmart grocery department manager in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, said, according to Myrtle Beach Online: "Literally, they are filling buggies full of water, shopping carts full of water".

"We do not want to risk one SC life in this hurricane", Governor Henry McMaster said at a news conference. If the storm moves on a coastal track, it would require the commonwealth to enact a tiered evacuation plan, commonly known as "Know Your Zone".

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

The National Weather Service has also forecasted heavy swells from Surf City north along the coast.

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.

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