The Category 4 storm, declared "very dangerous", set to make landfall in North or SC states on Thursday.
"Hurricane wind gusts will likely begin being felt Thursday early evening as the storm begins to approach landfall", he said. Its center was expected to move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.
The Governors of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia have declared emergencies. Additionally, Florence, about 1,000 miles southeast of Cape Fear, N.C., is predicted to bring "life-threatening impacts" to North Carolina and neighboring states late this week.
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. However, most models show Florence arriving as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, which would be a storm surge issue, says FOX 13's meteorologist Dave Osterberg.
A category 3 hurricane has winds of 96 to 112 miles per hour, the NHC said. Currently, Florence has winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kilometers/hour), making it a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the National Hurricane Center reported.
Preparations for Florence are intensifying up and down the densely populated coast. The storm became a hurricane on Sunday.
In Guam, Typhoon Mangkhut - a Category 4 storm - narrowly missed dealing a direct blow to the island. It is forecast to gain strength again as it moves toward the East Coast. And with little wind shear to pull the storm apart, Florence's hurricane-strength winds were expanding.
Once the storm makes landfall, the threats are far from over.
Likewise, state leaders were scurrying to prepare for the worst.
President Donald Trump tweeted the federal government stood prepared to assist the governors of the USA states affected.
Julie Chen Is Officially Leaving CBS' The Talk After Les Moonves Controversy
Sara Gilbert also weighed in, saying that while she loves and supports Chen "always", this is "an important time in our culture". Chen will address her exit, which is effective immediately, in a videotaped message that will air on Tuesday's episode.
Amtrak said Monday it is canceling service to points south of Washington starting Wednesday and through the weekend. "Action today can avoid losses due to Florence".
A mandatory evacuation order takes effect Tuesday at noon in eight counties along South Carolina's 187-mile coastline.
"This is a real hurricane we have coming", South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday. SC ordered an estimated 1 million people to evacuate its coast.
Storms of that size usually veer away from the USA, according to a Colorado State University hurricane researcher.
"We do not want to risk one SC life in this hurricane", McMaster said.
Schools will be closed in the affected counties and state officials will reverse lanes on four major roads leading to the coast to assist with the evacuation.
The commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command directed almost 30 ships to steam away from the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia, home to Naval Station Norfolk.
As the storm advanced, the afternoon of September 10 was a postcard-perfect day on Holden Beach with bright blue skies, placid puffy clouds and light breezes.
President Donald Trump has said that the federal government is "absolutely, totally prepared" for Hurricane Florence as it heads toward the Eastern Seaboard. He said USA 278 and US 21 would be "ready for reversal" at noon Tuesday, but a final decision on whether to reverse flow on the two highways would come later from local authorities. More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate as the storm advances.