SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.
The storm's first effects were already apparent on barrier islands as risky rip currents hit beaches and seawater flowed over a state highway - the harbinger of a storm surge that could wipe out dunes and submerge entire communities. "Probably not too much better, but most likely safer than here", she said.
Authorities also warned of life-threatening coastal storm surges and the potential for Florence to unleash prolonged torrential rains and widespread flooding across several states, especially if it lingers inland for several days.
Hurricane Florence as seen from the International Space Station on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. "So, that high pressure is now driving Florence toward the East Coast", he said.
A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and this area of the ocean is seeing temperatures peak near 85 degrees (30 Celsius), hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote.
Sustained winds Monday afternoon were up to 140 miles per hour.More news: Everything you need to know about Hurricane Florence
As of 12pm EST, the storm was centered approximately 1,230 miles from Cape Fear, North Carolina.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded Isaac to a tropical storm overnight but said Tuesday that it could be "at or near hurricane levels" on Thursday, when it approaches the Lesser Antilles Islands.
As Florence approaches the coast, it is forecast to strengthen.
Hurricane Florence was still a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday morning but had weakened, with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.
Projections Monday showed the storm making landfall in the area of Wilmington, N.C., early Friday morning, but much of SC still could see a significant impact, including high winds, rain and flooding.
Cooper and his counterparts in South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland all declared states of emergency.More news: Russian bombers intercepted by USA fighter jets west of Alaska
Gov. Henry McMaster has issued an evacuation order for SC as the area prepares for Hurricane Florence's possible landfall.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said his state was "in the bullseye" of the storm and urged people to "get ready now".
The National Hurricane Center said Monday the monster storm will be close to Category 5 strength by Tuesday.
An evacuation order from Virginia governor Ralph Northam applies to about 245,000 people, including parts of the Hampton Roads area and Eastern Shore.
Aides say they are applying lessons from last year's spate of storms to an expected repeat season of destruction.
And earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office released a report that revealed that FEMA was so overwhelmed with storms by the time Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico that more than half of the workers it was deploying to disasters were known to be unqualified for jobs they were doing in the field.
The storm is poised to affect millions this week in the southeastern U.S. Here's what should you know about the hurricane's path.More news: Google Made Another Headphone Dongle for the Pixel 2 for $12
It's now at a Category 4.
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