In North Carolina, schools had already cancelled classes for the week yesterday as the state braced for what would be only its second brush with a Category 4 hurricane since record-keeping began in the 1800s - the other was 1954's Hazel. "Our top priority is the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, fans and the lives of those in the path of this storm".
Florence's max sustained winds have been clocked at 130 miles per hour with an further increase expected on Monday.
"Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen", the NHC said.
"The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely risky hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity", the NHC said.
"Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said in a bulletin.
Florence grew into a major hurricane on Monday morning and was upgraded again to a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength at midday as its top sustained wind speeds reached 130 miles per hour. The storm could bring 2-4 inches of rain to those islands, risking flash floods.
Where the center of the storm is located, the intensity and size of the wind field are all factors in what impacts an area will see, but Eastern North Carolina residents should be prepared for a major storm event.
"The largest threat to life from hurricanes is not the high winds", it said. It could hang over the area with a prolonged rain.
Most of the projected paths show Florence making landfall in North Carolina. They will augment a network of 231 streamgages in North Carolina and 112 streamgages in SC that provide critical information to the National Weather Service, FEMA and other USGS partners involved in issuing flood and evacuation warnings and in coordinating emergency responses to communities. While we are not expected to be directly impacted, swells created by Florence will propagate to our region.
There are three hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. It was centered about 1,230 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west at 13 mph. Monday is the climatological peak date of hurricane season, the height of the eight-week period when the most powerful storms usually form, CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said. Hurricanes Helene and Isaac are not expected to hit the United States mainland.