Florence was about 405 miles south of Bermuda and its center was forecast to move between Bermuda and the Bahamas through Wednesday, before approaching the coast of North Carolina or SC on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its 8:00 am (1200 GMT) advisory.
Florence is now at a Category 4 level, the second highest classification on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with winds now at 130 miles per hour (209 kilometers per hour).
Now, Hurricane Florence threatens to make it three out of four years that a major storm dropped heavy rains and flooded farms and fields with potentially season-ending devastation. That forecast could change, however, should the storm's track change. A hurricane warning was posted for most of the Carolina coast north to the Virginia border.
At 2 a.m., the storm was centered 625 miles (1,005 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph).
Significantly, hurricane-force winds extended 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the eye, and tropical-storm-force winds reached 175 miles (280 kilometers) outward, making outdoor preparations hard or unsafe as early as Thursday.
This hurricane's size is "staggering", National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham warned - so wide that 12-foot seas were being pushed 300 miles ahead of its eye and entire states will be deluged for days.
He says the peanut crop could use some rain after a very dry August, but certainly doesn't need the amount of moisture Florence is expected to deliver.
North Carolina's game against No. 18 UCF won't take place Saturday and Wake Forest's Thursday night matchup with Boston College will start two hours earlier due to Hurricane Florence.
In its discussion, the NHC said that Florence is predicted to "slow down significantly" in the 72 hours before it approaches land. That could bring prolonged heavy rainfall.
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Virginia, home to major government and military facilities, declared a state of emergency and 245,000 coastal residents there were ordered to evacuate by 8:00 am Tuesday including from the Eastern Shore, another popular beachfront getaway destination.
Both counties issued state-of-emergency declarations this morning, joining Currituck County and Chowan County and Edenton, which issued their declarations on Monday, and Elizabeth City, whose declaration took effect this morning.
Evacuations in Dare County began Monday and are expected to continue, and officials at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington have canceled classes and activities for the remainder of the week to allow students and staff to evacuate if they so choose. Edisto Beach and all other areas ordered to evacuate are still ordered to do so. Beaufort County public schools will remained closed for the rest of the week. Schools in Elizabeth City-Pasquotank and Perquimans County have already announced they'll close for students on Wednesday. Florence is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Governors in SC and Virginia have also issued mandatory evacuation orders ahead of the storm.
Hurricane Florence continued its path towards the USA on Tuesday with the potential to cause catastrophic damage to the coasts of the mid-Atlantic and southeastern regions, according to officials.
The National Hurricane Center Tuesday afternoon increased its rainfall forecast to 15 to 25 inches of rain and 35 inches in isolated spots.
Hurricane Florence is continuing to move west-northwest and is still forecast to hit North Carolina and SC, bringing destructive storm surge, rains, and wind.
The Category 4 storm's approach led to a series of schedule adjustments Tuesday for teams in the Carolinas and Virginia.
In the six decades since, many thousands of people have moved to the coast.
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