Hurricane Florence has strengthened, with sustained maximum sustained winds of 170km / h, with forecasters warning that "it is expected to soon become a major hurricane" as it moves toward the east coast of the United States.
The category one hurricane was gathering as it traveled over warm Atlantic waters, about 990 kilometers southeast of Bermuda early Monday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The speed is expected to increase, moving between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and could possibly land as category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, meteorologists said.
The arrival could take place between South Carolina and North Carolina on Thursday, according to NHC predictions.
Strong winds could begin to shake the coast of Carolina on Wednesday night, forecasters said.
"Make your plans now," the governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, urged residents during a press conference. "Suppose a big hurricane is going to hit right in the middle of South Carolina."
McMaster said he had asked US President Donald Trump to declare a federal emergency in South Carolina in anticipation of the storm's arrival.
Residents from Virginia, to the north, were warned that Florence represented an ever-increasing risk of generating a life-threatening coastal swell, as well as flooding from heavy rains if the storm moved slowly over the southeast.
The governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, also urged the residents of his state to prepare, noting that the storm was already generating dangerous waves and currents along the coast.
"Everyone in North Carolina should closely monitor Florence and take action now to prepare for the impacts by the end of this week," Cooper said in a statement.
The governors of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have declared states of emergency.
The center of the storm was on track to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Wednesday, the NHC said.