As Hurricane Florence moves closer to the East Coast, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents in low-lying coastal areas.
The order impacts 245,000 residents in evacuation zone A, reports Fox5.
"Hurricane Florence has the potential to cause catastrophic flooding, especially in our coastal areas," Northam said Monday. "This evacuation is for the safety of thousands of Virginians living in that zone. But the effects of this storm will be felt statewide, and I encourage everyone in Virginia to prepare now."
While all Virginians need to prepare for Hurricane Florence, Governor Northam has ordered the mandatory evacuation of Coastal Virginians in Zone A (blue), the lowest-lying area of Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore & Coastal Virginia. These residents should move to higher ground. pic.twitter.com/uYGIAqGg6a— VDEM (@VDEM) September 11, 2018
Northam previously declared a state of emergency on Saturday, ahead of possible flooding, storm surge, high winds and power outages. The governor also asked for a federal emergency declaration, which will give the state government access to federal resources.
Northam stressed that it is important for everyone in Virginia to prepare, not just residents living along the coast.
"Everyone in Virginia needs to prepare," he said, reports CNN. "This is a serious storm and it's going to affect the entire state of Virginia."
The governors of Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina have also issued state of emergency declaration. Officials in North and South Carolina have already started evacuating residents along the coast, as recent forecast have made it clear that Florence will make landfall in the Carolinas.
According to WYFF, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the state is in the "bull's eye" of the hurricane.
"This will be inconvenient for some people, but we don't want to risk one South Carolina life," Sourh Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday.
McMaster and Cooper also said they sent requests to President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration.
"My people just informed me that this is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years. Also, looking like a direct hit on North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE," Trump tweeted. "Just had calls with South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam regarding the incoming storm. Federal Government stands by, ready to assist 24/7."
According to the 5 p.m. ET Monday update from the National Hurricane Center, Florence is about 1,140 miles from Cape Fear, North Carolina and has sustained winds at 140 mph. It is now a category four hurricane and continues to gain strength. The storm is on track to reach the North Carolina or South Carolina coast on Thursday.
"Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday," the NHC said.
If the latest NHC forecast comes to pass, #Florence will be the only hurricane on record to make a Cat 4 U.S. landfall so far north. The dramatic slowing on Friday, and the implied risk of extreme rainfall, is the other very concerning detail on this map. //t.co/tfePz2Glur pic.twitter.com/NPrkaWL6Ha— Bob Henson (@bhensonweather) September 10, 2018
The latest forecasts show that Florence could make landfall as a category four, making it the first storm that strong to make landfall this far north on record.
Photo credit: NASA via Getty Images