'Big and vicious': Hurricane Florence closes in on Carolinas

Mandatory evacuation issued for Hatteras Island ahead of Hurricane Florence

'Flooding of Biblical Proportions' Predicted as Hurricane Florence Takes Dead Aim at East Coast

Forecasters say the hurricane's strength is expected to fluctuate but it still will be a unsafe storm by the time it reaches the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday.

But it's forecast to strengthen to near the level of a Category 5 storm - which has sustained winds of 157 miles per hour or more.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced Hurricane Florence continued to strengthen Monday morning, with experts claiming the storm will likely impact Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the United States this week.

"North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously and you should too", said Governor Cooper.

Hurricane Florence is predicted to slam into the US East Coast as a "major" storm. In September 1989, Hurricane Hugo smashed its way up from the SC coast near Charleston and made a beeline for Charlotte, knocking over thousands of trees and leaving many without power for weeks.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered as many as one million residents of the state's entire eastern coastline to leave their homes starting at noon on Tuesday.

Mr Graham said: "It's not just the coast".

Duke Energy is already projecting widespread power outages in the Carolinas that could take days to weeks to restore, spokeswoman Grace Rountree said. Then, the strong winds, which may be higher than the other hurricanes that we have recently experienced. He told The Chronicle Sunday that once Florence hits land, destructive winds and enormous rainfall flooding may take hold of the area.

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Not only has the storm exploded in intensity, but its zone of hurricane-force winds approximately doubled in size Monday. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has ordered 125 buses to be staged in Orangeburg - 37 miles southeast of the state capital of Columbia - in case they are needed to transport residents to shelters.

Handout via Getty Images Hurricane Florence is seen traveling west over the Atlantic Ocean on September 10, 2018.

As you can see, the earliest time that tropical storm winds are now expected in the Carolinas, according to the National Hurricane Center, is Wednesday night.

Customers line up to buy propane at Socastee Hardware store, ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Sept. 10, 2018.

Added to this Florence is likely to slow down as she moves inland through Friday and the weekend bringing a "prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event", according to the key message from the NHC.

Florence remains a category 4 hurricane. Tropical storm force winds extend 150 miles from the center.

The majority of flooding from the storm surge is caused by a phenomenon known as the Coriolis effect.

"We've seen nor'easters and we've seen hurricanes before", Cooper said, "but this one is different".

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