Carolinas brace for potentially devastating Hurricane Florence

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Forecasters expect Tropical Storm Florence to become a "major hurricane" Monday as it continues to approach the southeastern U.S. East Coast.

Florence is on track to hit the East Coast of the USA this week and now has maxim sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Center's 5 p.m. Sunday update.

The governors of SC and Virginia also declared states of emergency far ahead of the approaching storm.

The National Hurricane Center said Saturday that Florence will start to rapidly intensify Sunday, and be a major hurricane by Tuesday.

On its current track, the storm could make landfall around the Carolinas on Thursday or Friday. It was centered about 1,230 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west at 13 mph.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT)- The National Hurricane Center says the coastline of SC may be impacted by the chance of Tropical Storm Florence becoming Hurricane Florence.

Florence strengthened to Category 1 hurricane Sunday morning as the storm charted an uncertain path toward the Unites States' East Coast.

Residents as far north as Virginia were warned that Florence could bring a life-threatening coastal storm surge, as well as inland flooding from "prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall", the NHC said.

Florence became the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season this past Wednesday, reaching Category 4 status with maximum sustained winds peaking at 130 miles per hour.

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Florence was previously named the first Category 4 hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season last week, but later weakened to a tropical storm, before starting to regain its strength again.

Florence became a hurricane Sunday with sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour. It did not immediately pose a threat to land. "If you see a business taking advantage of this storm, please let my office know so we can hold them accountable", Stein said.

Two other storms also are churning in the Atlantic. "We are mobilizing the state's resources to make sure we are prepared, and the people of SC must not hesitate to prepare for the possibility of a hurricane impacting our coast".

Hurricanes Helene and Isaac are not expected to hit the U.S. mainland.

Officials in North Carolina are already bracing for impact.

McMaster's declaration is to give the state time to prepare for the possible arrival of a hurricane.

A National Hurricane Center graphic showing the potential track for Hurricane Florence, as of 11 a.m.

Tropical storm force winds and some rain bands will likely begin Wednesday night, regardless of the actual landfall of the storm.

US Navy ships are also evacuating their ships in the Hampton Roads area to leave the port.