A Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds is bearing down on the US East Coast, bringing a risk of devastating floods.
Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall somewhere between North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Mid-Atlantic states on Thursday evening or Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The hurricane could remain powerful as it passes over the US mainland, the NHC warned on Monday morning.
The hurricane is set to inundate low-lying islands off the coast of North Carolina, like the Outer Banks and other barrier islands, according to the NHC's "cone of probability" forecast. Heavy rain may impact as far inland as Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city, though the severity will depend on the storm's track, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Evacuations now extend to 1 million people in South Carolina — Governor Henry McMaster ordered the state's entire 187-mile coastline evacuated by Tuesday afternoon, reports The Post and Courier.
"Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of South Carolina and is going to go way inshore," McMaster said in a press conference.
Evacuation orders are mounting
Some South Carolina schools and most offices have been closed in Charleston, the largest city in South Carolina, in advance of the storm, reports The Post and Courier. The famed vacation destination of Hilton Head, South Carolina is also in the storm's likely path.
In North Carolina, evacuations have been ordered in Dare County, which includes the Outer Banks and Hatteras, a popular vacation spot, as well as other coastal counties, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"Everyone in Dare County is encouraged to evacuate as soon as possible regardless of the established time frames," the Dare County Emergency Management said on Monday.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said at a press conference that the state is in the "bullseye" of the hurricane, according to The Raleigh News and Observer.
The latest Florence forecast
Predicting hurricane tracks is a difficult science, and the NHC said there are still uncertainties about the storm's track. So it may shift over the coming days, but if predictions hold, Florence is set to be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in North Carolina since Hurricane Hugo tore through the state in 1989.