McMaster said, "we know this evacuation order is an inconvenience". "Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday".
"Florence is quickly becoming a powerful hurricane", a hurricane specialist wrote.
The evacuation order becomes mandatory at noon Tuesday, but cameras show traffic already backing up along the main interstate connecting Charleston and Columbia.
Florence is now moving west at around 13 miles per hour.
Crystal Kirwan didn't see she had much choice as she got her family ready to leave their home Monday on the coast of North Carolina, with Category 4 Hurricane Florence threatening the state. "[That storm] tracked just west of D.C. and had major impacts on the area", Pallozzi says. With torrential rains in the Appalachian mountains, that water could easily cause flash floods. President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday evening.
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Heavy rain in the Washington area over the weekend had already led to flooding in historic Alexandria, Virginia, local media said, and the National Weather Service issued a flood watch for part of the Potomac River. Justin Kibbey also recalled the distinctness of the storm's eye.
"And your umbrella-guns, and your beer, and your beer-guns, and your tiny umbrellas to keep your beer dry, and join people from all along the East Coast in scaring away Hurricane Florence to protect our country from this foreign invader!"
In the Pacific, Hurricane Olivia triggered warnings for multiple Hawaiian islands, blowing westward and expected to arrive in the state as soon as late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned that Florence was forecast to linger over the Carolinas once it reaches shore.
"We want to make sure that we get the best data going to the National Hurricane Center. and to emergency managers and to the media so we can get people out of the way", Flaherty said.
The center of Florence was forecast to sweep between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday before making its assault on the USA coast.
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"The storm is expected to intensify in the coming days, with the potential to make landfall on the morning of Thursday, 13 September in coastal North Carolina as a major hurricane".
"To the incredible citizens of North Carolina, South Carolina and the entire East Coast - the storm looks very bad!"
Mindful of devastation wrought by a string of deadly USA hurricanes previous year, residents in the Carolinas began the rituals of disaster preparation - boarding up windows and stocking up on groceries, water and gasoline.
After Florence makes landfall, that ridge, now over Washington and NY, will move east - but be replaced by another one forming over the Great Lakes that will likely keep the storm stuck, McNoldy said.
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 Center projects wind speed will continue to increase, potentially elevating Florence to a Category 5.
"The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely unsafe hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity", the hurricane center said. As of Monday, there have been 10 named storms.
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At 11 p.m. EDT, the storm's center was located about 465 miles (750 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda and about 1,085 miles (1745 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.