Evacuations underway as Florence strengthens to category 4 hurricane

Hurricane Florence as seen from the ISS on Monday morning

Hurricane Florence neared Category 5 strength on Monday, forcing evacuations in coastal areas in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

UAE residents and tourists in the USA have been issued a warning by the UAE Embassy in Washington to be cautious of Hurricane Florence. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has given the entire coastline until Tuesday noon to leave.

As of Tuesday morning, hurricane force winds were extending up to 40 miles from the storm's center and "tropical storm force winds" were showing up as far away as 150 miles, said the National Weather Service.

He also asked President Donald Trump for an early federal disaster declaration to prepare for anticipated damage in the state.

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified a photo of hurricane Florence as one of hurricane Helene; astronaut Ricky Arnold did not share a photo of the latter storm on Twitter.

"Every time there's going to be those people who decide to stay", he said.

Preparations for Florence come as the Atlantic hurricane season hits its peak. The hurricane is expected to approach the coast of the Carolinas on Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Florence, the most intense of the three has reached Category 4 status and will likely continue to strengthen as it moves over the warm waters heading for landfall on the East Coast later this week.

Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation ahead of Hurricane Florence for all coastal counties in SC on Monday, including Beaufort, Colleton, and Jasper counties.

Hurricane Florence's top winds exploded to 130 miles (209 km) per hour, making it a Category 4 storm, just one-step short of the most severe level as it pushed westward toward the U.S. East Coast.

The hurricane has already prompted mandatory evacuation orders in the Carolinas and Virginia. As a major storm, the hurricane is expected to produce life-threatening conditions.

The city of Wilmington in North Carolina is expected to be the first major city hit by the storm. People living well inland should prepare to lose power and endure flooding and other hazards, he warned.

Major US military installments may be in the path of the Florence, including the largest Marine base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and the world's biggest Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia.

Mindful of devastation wrought by a string of deadly US hurricanes past year, residents in the Carolinas began the rituals of disaster preparation - boarding up windows and stocking up on groceries, water and gasoline.