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"An evacuation order for visitors and residents on Hatteras Island is in effect Monday while those in other parts of Dare County will be under an evacuation order beginning Tuesday". Even before the evacuation order, Dare County emergency officials warned that rough seas and strong rip currents already were creating risky conditions. "This helps everyone find vital information more easily".

For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge: If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains all the way into the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions in places that don't usually get much tropical weather.

Swells up to 15 feet could batter the coast, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

Hurricane Isaac is moving toward the Caribbean and could make landfall Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane.

"Life-threatening" hurricane and storm surges watches have been issued for huge swathes of the U.S. southeastern coast as Hurricane Florence barrels across the Atlantic Ocean.

On Sunday, the hurricane center reported that Florence had reached sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour to be classified a hurricane.

The current track extends the possibility of landfall from SC to northern Virginia but the impacts will extend even farther. Its centre will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the coast of South or North Carolina on Thursday, the National Hurricane Centre said.

Oosterwyk was gathering tax documents and other important papers from her store on Monday, and said she planned to drive 150 miles inland to ride out the storm in the town of Cary.

Florence is predicted to make an overnight landfall Friday west of Wilmington, NC.

Preparations intensified up and down the densely populated coast.

Hurricane Florence this morning remained a powerful Category 4 story with its eyes on North Carolina, but the forecast track has been shifting slightly northward, which could be good news for Scotland County.

"This is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years", President Donald Trump warned on Twitter.

Residents farther north in coastal and inland areas in the Delmarva Peninsula, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and NY should also monitor the storm and prepare in case the forecast shifts to the north and east.

"While it is too soon to determine the exact timing, location and magnitude of these impacts, interest at the coast and inland from SC into the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the progress of Florence", said a NOAA statement.

Schools, state government offices and medical facilities, including nursing homes in those counties, will be evacuated as well, McMaster said. As the forecast becomes clearer, Florence poses three challenges: coastal storm surge, strong winds and inland flooding that inundates rivers and low-lying ground.

"Whether price-gouging, looting or break-ins, I want everyone to know that. lawlessness during this period of time will not be tolerated", said State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel. We are bracing for a hard hit. Roberts said he's telling them to get out of town.