"Florence is forecast to be a risky major hurricane near the southeast US coast by late next week, and the risk of direct impacts continues to increase", the hurricane center said Saturday.
By Saturday evening, Florence was located 810 miles southeast of Bermuda, and had winds of 70 mph. The storm was centered about 835 miles (1340 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 7 mph (11 kph).
Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency for North Carolina Friday, and Sunday his office sent out a news release urging residents to start taking precautions. Rapid intensification is expected through Monday, with Florence approached Category 4 status. The storm was centered about 765 miles southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 6 mph (9 kph). But it was still too early to predict an exact path for the storm. He said North Carolina is "bracing for a hard hit" in what forecasters say will be a statewide event.
"We do not want to risk one SC life in this hurricane", Governor Henry McMaster told a news conference.
U.S. President Donald Trump, whose administration was criticized as being slow to respond to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year, canceled a political rally planned for Friday in Jackson, Mississippi, over safety concerns related to Florence, his campaign said.
Officials in North Carolina were already preparing for impact.
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In addition, in the Pacific, what's now Hurricane Olivia is forecast to approach Hawaii as a tropical storm on Tuesday.
Helene is forecast to strengthen, with tropical storm conditions reaching the Cabo Verde Islands Saturday.
The latest forecast from the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, "Florence is moving toward the west near 9 miles per hour (14 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple days".
Florence was upgraded Monday to Category 3, and then quickly to Category 4. Cotton, corn and soybean fields, along with massive hog and poultry facilities lie in Florence's forecast path.Smithfield Foods Inc., the No. 1 hog producer, and chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. saw North Carolina operations disrupted in 2016 in flooding from Hurricane Matthew. Florence was a Category 4 storm late afternoon Monday.
"Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said in its latest bulletin.
Two more storms named Helene and Isaac are following behind Florence, according to Fox, but are expected to be less threatening.
Tropical-storm-force winds could reach the coastline as early as Wednesday night, at which point all outdoor preparations should be completed. Given sufficient warm water and low shear, Depression Nine should become a tropical storm sometime on Saturday.