WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Florence (all times local):
The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states.
At 2 a.m., the storm was centered 625 miles (1,005 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph). Strengthening is forecast through Wednesday. It was a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm but was expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, which means winds of 157 mph (253 kph) or higher.
Forecasters say the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Wednesday, and approach the coast of the Carolinas in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday.
Residents on the Carolina coast are finding empty gas pumps and depleted store shelves as they flee a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence.
With the storm churning across the Atlantic with 140 mph winds, hurricane watches and warnings include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast. A steady stream of vehicles filled with people and belongings is moving inland.
Forecasters say Florence is expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, then slow down and dump 1 to 2½ feet of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.
President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid.