Tropical Storm Florence has officially been upgraded to a hurricane, and the southern part of the East Coast is in danger of a direct hit this week.
According to the latest report by the Associated Press, it regained hurricane status at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, and continued to hurtle toward the U.S.
The National Hurricane Center warns that all predictions about Florence are in their preliminary stages, as the storm is too far off to guess precisely where it will go. However, current models show it striking the east coast anywhere between Florida and Washington D.C., likely as a category 3 hurricane.
At the moment, Florence is just southeast of Bermuda. It has sustained wind speeds of about 75 mph, and it is moving towards the U.S. at about 6 mph. The storm has about 1,500 miles to go before it makes landfall, according to CNN. The outlet's senior meteorologist, Dave Hennen, warned that Florence will likely be "category 3 or higher" when it lands.
The National Hurricane Center expects the biggest threats from Florence to be "life-threatening surf and rip current conditions." After the initial impact, they warn of catastrophic freshwater flooding due to the prolonged heavy rainfall.
"While the impacts of Tropical Storm Florence to Virginia are still uncertain, forecasts increasingly expect the storm to strengthen into a major hurricane that could seriously affect the East Coast and Virginians," Virginia Governor Ralph Northam told reporters on Saturday.
"We are preparing for the worst, and of course hoping for the best," added South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster in his own press release. McMaster added that he was making his declaration early to ensure that state agencies could deploy assets quickly should the need arise.
"Action today can avoid losses due to Florence," said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper in a statement. Cooper advised residents to learn their evacuation routes, fuel their vehicles and prepare for the possibility of leaving in a hurry. He also waived transportation restrictions within the state so that farmers could harvest and move their crops more quickly before the storm hits.
Two more massive storms are approaching just behind Florence. Tropical Storm Isaac was named on Saturday afternoon, and Tropical Storm Helene is following close behind. Both reportedly have the potential to reach hurricane status as soon as Monday.