The hurricane center's description of a Category 4 hurricane begins with "catastrophic damage will occur".
It said that a hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area and Prime Minister Skerrit reminded citizens that Hurricane Maria had increased its intensity "in a matter of hours from a Category 3 to Category 5 storm when it lashed the island on September 18 previous year, killing several people and causing hundreds of dollars in losses".
Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area by Thursday morning, with tropical storm conditions possible early Thursday in both the hurricane and tropical storm watch areas. Virginia, North Carolina, and SC have all declared states of emergency.
At least 250,000 more people were due to be evacuated from the northern Outer Banks in North Carolina on Tuesday after more than 50,000 people were ordered on Monday to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of the state's barrier islands.
More powerful hurricanes also bring higher-than-average storm surges, which can destroy coastal property.
Ahead of Florence's arrival, barrier islands were already seeing risky rip currents and seawater flowed over a state highway - the harbinger of a storm surge that could wipe out dunes and submerge entire communities. Hurricane force winds now extend 40 miles from the eye.
Florence was expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, then slow down and wring itself out for days, unloading 1 to 2½ feet of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms. Forecast models suggest that more than 2 feet of rain could fall over the higher elevations of the Carolinas and Virginia, which would generate unsafe flooding downstream.
US Employment Jumps More Than Expected In August
The expected gain for August would be a solid one, though below the average increase over the previous six months of 220,000 jobs. The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum as well as on $50 billion of goods from China.
The city of Wilmington in North Carolina is expected to be the first major city hit by the storm.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, Florence was tracking west-northwest at 11 miles per hour just less than 1,200 miles east-southeast from Cape Fear, N.C.
He also stated that the hurricane's path is liable to change and that Virginians should prepare for "coastal storm surge, inland flooding that may be severe, high winds, and widespread power outages".
Since the hurricane has already amassed wind speeds of 130 miles per hour, the coast could see life-threatening wind, rain, and storm surges.
Some weakening of Florence is expected on Thursday, but it is still expected to be a risky, major hurricane when it makes landfall.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles. Rainfall could continue into the following week.
Florence is forecast to make landfall in North Carolina late Thursday as a major hurricane and subject the region to high winds and heavy rain. In addition, because the ground is likely to be saturated, trees will be vulnerable in strong winds.
Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different.