Hurricane Florence grew Monday to a Category 4 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The hurricane was a Category 3 storm earlier Monday, but it strengthened to a Category 4 storm. The hurricane now has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph.
Even further strengthening is possible over the next several days.
Speaking at a press conference Monday morning, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said he has asked President Trump for a federal disaster declaration for the state ahead of Hurricane Florence.
The federal declaration would free up federal assistance and supplement state and local efforts in providing emergency response, Cooper says.
Gov. Cooper also says he spoke with FEMA Director Brock Long earlier on Monday.
He also said people in its path should prepare to be without power for a while.
“When it comes to utilities, families need to be ready,” Gov. Cooper said. “They need to prepare to be without power for a while, that’s why we’re urging people to have their emergency kits and prepare for this.”
Gov. Cooper foresees three separate threats from Hurricane Florence: an initial surge of ocean water along the coast, followed by strong winds, and ultimately, inland flooding. “North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously, and you should too,” Cooper said.
Cooper also expects other coastal communities to follow the lead of Dare County and issue mandatory evacuation orders for residents and visitors either Monday or Tuesday.
Astronaut Ricky Arnold, who is currently hurtling around Earth on the International Space Station, looked out his window this morning and saw Hurricane Florence spinning over the Atlantic.
See the photos:
Florence now has maximum sustained winds of 115mph, and gusts to 140mph according to the National Hurricane Center.
This makes Florence a CAT 3, major hurricane, and further strengthening is forecast.
Florence is likely to be a direct threat to the U.S. East Coast late this week.
Hurricane Florence has its sights set on North and South Carolina, and if it hits as hard as predicted, the storm will be the most powerful to pound the area in three decades, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said Monday.
"This storm gets stronger and stronger" and is on its way to a head-on impact on the Carolinas later this week, Myers said.
Water up to 15 feet high will strike the coast, and rainfall inland over the next four to five days could reach 20 inches in some locations, he said.