Florence restrengthens into a hurricane, approaching East Coast

Florence expected to regain strength

The university said Sunday that it has issued a voluntary evacuation for students starting at midday Monday, noting classes would be canceled. While forecasters say it's too soon to determine the exact timing and a possible landfall for the storm, people from SC to the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the approaching storm.

Florence was expected to approach the southeastern coast of the United States on Thursday, possibly near the North Carolina-South Carolina border, according to maps of the storm's trajectory predicted by the NHC.

Models show the storm reaching Category 4 intensity within 48 hours, with winds of 130 mph to 156 mph, hurricane specialist Eric Blake said in a forecast discussion.

Florence was expected to remain an extremely unsafe, major hurricane and was forecast to approach the southeastern coast of the United States on Thursday, the NHC added.

The center of Florence was located about 685 miles (1,100 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, the NHC in its 0300 GMT Monday advisory.

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In southeast Virginia, Naval Station Norfolk told its employees they should not leave their vehicles parked at the sprawling base in coming days because of the flood threat. Storm surge and large battering waves can result in large loss of life and cause massive destruction along the coast. McMaster on Sunday predicted Florence will likely deliver "a strong hit on SC", though he cautioned that it's still uncertain how bad the Palmetto State will be affected. The National Hurricane Center says it's still too early to predict the storm's exact path.

The governors of North and SC and Virginia declared states of emergency far ahead of the storm to get ready.

"Whatever happens, we're going to have a lot of rain and a lot of wind, even if the hurricane goes farther north", McMaster said.

Gov. Henry McMaster told a news conference Sunday that people should "pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of SC and is going to go way inshore".

Hurricane Isaac - which late Sunday became the fifth hurricane of the season - is heading west towards the Caribbean.

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In Charleston, South Carolina, along the coast, city officials offered sandbags to residents.

Cruise lines are redirecting their ships to avoid the path of the major hurricane. For the most likely arrival time for Tropical Storm force winds accompanying the storm, view the third image above. The ship will call on St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan and Amber Cove before returning to Miami on September 16.

North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have declared states of emergency in preparation for the potential impact of Florence. He also urged residents to "review your emergency plans and gather your supplies now". The state's emergency management agency said it is "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

Forecasters predicted it would become a risky Category 4 storm before a possible landfall Friday.

Tropical-storm-force winds could reach the coastline as early as Wednesday night, at which point all outdoor preparations should be completed. Its winds weakened Thursday when it returned to tropical storm status.

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Florence was crawling west-northwest across the North Atlantic Ocean at just 7 miles per hour on Sunday evening. "Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of SC".

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