Hurricane Florence on Course to the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence as seen from the International Space Station on Monday

Hurricane Florence as seen from the International Space Station on Monday

The storm, which intensified dramatically from a Category 1 to a Category 4 hurricane on Monday, could roar ashore with winds of up to 150 miles per hour, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

The governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, ordered the mandatory evacuation of the state's entire 187-mile coastline at noon on Tuesday.

More than a million people in the southeast United States faced mandatory evacuation orders. "We are going to put everything else away and then we are going to put some concrete blocks in front of the doors just so rushing water and wind can't blow the doors back in", said Matthew Littleton with Casper's Marina. "When you stall a system like this and it moves real slow, some of that rainfall can extend well away from the center".

"Florence is quickly becoming a powerful hurricane", a hurricane specialist wrote.

"Florence has rapidly intensified into an extremely risky hurricane", Blake wrote Monday evening, predicting that the hurricane's top sustained winds would approach the 157 miles per hour (253 kph) threshold for a wost-case Category 5 scenario.

Mass evacuations were ordered along the U.S. Atlantic Coast as Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm and the most powerful to menace the region in almost three decades, barreled toward the region on Tuesday.

Helene, meanwhile, was still in the Atlantic's spawning ground for hurricanes off the coast of Africa, swirling with 105 mph (165 kmh) winds and forecast to become a major hurricane, about 375 miles (600 kilometers) west of the Cape Verde islands.

Hurricanes Isaac, which could hit Caribbean islands, and Helene, much farther out to sea, lined up behind Florence as the 2018 Atlantic season reached its peak.

McMaster estimated about 1 million residents would be fleeing the coast before Florence's arrival.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm twice Monday, to a Category 4 hurricane.

The UK Foreign Office (FCO) said in its travel advisory: "Hurricane Florence is forecast to bring life-threatening weather conditions to North Carolina and SC, with potential effects in coastal Georgia and Virginia".

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".

Many newcomers have moved to the coast in the almost 19 years since the last strong hurricane - Floyd - threatened the area.

Announcing his evacuation order, SC governor Henry McMaster said an estimated one million people would be fleeing the coast.

And earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office released a report that revealed that FEMA was so overwhelmed with storms by the time Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico that more than half of the workers it was deploying to disasters were known to be unqualified for jobs they were doing in the field.

There have only been 26 category 4 hurricanes to ever make landfall in the us since 1850.

"My people just informed me that this is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years. The threat will be inland, so I'm afraid, based on my experience at FEMA, that the public probably not as prepared as everybody would like", said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mike Herring with Frank's Ice Company unloads another pallet of ice as people buy supplies at The Home Depot on Monday in Wilmington, N.C.

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