Forecasters are clear: Hurricane Florence is rapidly getting stronger, predictions are dire and the three states in its path are bracing for the worst.
The storm will likely hit the East Coast as a powerful Category 4 or possibly Category 5 hurricane, and its impact is expected to be life-threatening.
"The most hideous aspect of this may be that the track is hitting perpendicular. This is not an arcing storm, this is coming right in at 90 degrees, and those are the worst storms as far as keeping their intensity," explains WeatherBELL Meteorologist Joe Bastardi.
"We do know that we're in the bulls-eye," said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. "North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously and you should too. Get ready now."
Residents along the coast in North Carolina, but also South Carolina and Virginia have already been issued mandatory evacuation orders.
The most sweeping orders come from South Carolina, where the entire coastline was given until Noon on Tuesday to leave – more than one million people on the move.
"It's going to be inconvenient but we don't want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane," said Gov. Henry McMaster.
In Virginia Beach, Virginia, local stores are already selling out of basic supplies.
For those not planning to evacuate, some of the most important items to have on hand include:
- One gallon of water per person, per day;
- At least three days of food that won't spoil;
- Batteries, a battery-powered radio and a flashlight.
Tuesday morning, Florence's top wind speeds were clocked at 140 mph, and forecasters say it's still growing in size and magnitude.
Meteorologist Jon Cash tells CBN News that wherever Florence comes ashore, that area will likely be devastated, facing destructive winds and days of torrential rain.
"All of our computer models that we really like, that we say these are the accurate ones, are all lining up and saying this thing's going to explode," Cash said.
"The key really is this thing is going to be a huge storm when it threatens the coast and this is just something that doesn't happen every day when you see things lining up as they are," he continued.
Besides the power of this storm, the other major concern is its speed.
"After it comes inland, it's not going to move hardly at all for three days...When we're talking 30-40 inches of rain, if that occurs over the mountains of NC or VA then you are looking at a catastrophic flooding event," Cash told CBN News.
#Florence is now a powerful Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. #GOESEast captured this close-up of the storm's eye as it continues tracking toward the southeastern U.S. Latest: https://t.co/vziaU0pOhE pic.twitter.com/SvHPKYGZsC
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 10, 2018
Monday night President Trump tweeted about the storm, asking those along the coast to be careful and promising the support of the federal government.
Meanwhile, several other hurricanes are traveling behind Florence, much further out in the Atlantic Ocean. It's too soon to tell where they're heading.