Florence to become major hurricane by Monday

Hurricane Florence: South Carolina Still In Danger Zone

Florence is now a hurricane, McMaster advises prep for "a lot of rain and a lot of wind"

Governors in Virginia, North Carolina and SC have all declared states of emergency over the past two days in anticipation of the storm.

Meanwhile, naval bases near Virginia's coast are also sandbagging flood prone areas and topping off fuel generators. The National Weather Service has issued a warning saying Mangkhut will bring tropical storm force winds between 65 and 100 knots. Several computer models have come into agreement Florence will impact the Carolina coastline, with many of them taking the storm inland.

Live 5 News Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh stresses the forecast is fluid this many days out, and any shift in the forecast tracks could bring severe weather to SC.

"I'll see by Wednesday how that goes - we got over 48 hours before that happens", Cesal said. The Category 4 storm is expected to make landfall sometime Thursday or Friday, bringing major impacts to North and SC including the potential for heavy rain.

Florence had some rapid intensification throughout Monday as it continues to move on warm waters.

The first effects of what forecasters are already calling a large and extremely risky hurricane were already being seen on barrier islands Monday as unsafe rip currents and seawater flowed over the state highway.

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"You get the right ingredients and watch out", Walsh said Monday night.

In advance of the storm, assemble your emergency kit including food, water, medications, pet supplies and important documents that you will need to take with you if asked to evacuate in short order.

Florence is now forecast to approach the North Carolina or SC coast by Thursday, although tropical storm-force winds from the system could reach the coast as early as Wednesday.

Large swells generated by Florence are already affecting Bermuda and portions of the East Coast and will continue this week. It would be the eighth costliest storm in USA history.

In North Carolina, emergency officials in Dare County issued mandatory evacuations Monday for residents and visitors of Hatteras Island, on the southern end of the Outer Banks. But it was still too early to predict an exact path for the storm. As projected paths for Florence continue to change, Gov. Henry McMaster said during an update Sunday afternoon, "What that means for us in SC is that whatever happens, we're going to have a lot of rain and a lot of wind".

As a rapidly strengthening Hurricane Florence aims at Southeast coast, behind it Hurricane Helene, Tropical Storm Isaac and one other potential tropical storm are all brewing.

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Hurricane Florence is aiming for a region of the U.S. East Coast that is especially vulnerable to storm surge and flooding from heavy rains. A turn toward the west-northwest is forecast to occur by Monday. A Category 5 storm has the potential to cause catastrophic damage.

The NHC warned that Florence "is forecast to rapidly strengthen to a major hurricane by Monday night, and is expected to remain an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday".

Graham urged coastal residents to finish their planning before the arrival of tropical-storm-force windows on Wednesday. The storm was moving west at 14 mph (22 kmh) and expected to accelerate over the next 36 hours. Isaac's forward movement was accelerating on a path to cross into the lower Caribbean on Thursday.

Olivia is expected to move west through Monday before turning west-southwest late Monday and early Tuesday local time. Weakening is forecast to begin by the middle of the week as Isaac approaches the Lesser Antilles. While larger than Katrina (which was 415 miles wide), it still has a ways to go to reach the record width of 1,000 miles from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The estimated minimum central pressure is 997 mb (29.44 inches).

Florence is moving west at under 10 miles per hour.

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These swells, already affecting Bermuda, "are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions", the NHC warned. All government services will remain in operation tomorrow as Hurricane Florence passes to the south of the island.

Here is the NHC's latest forecast bubble ...

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