More than 1 million people face mandatory evacuation orders today in the US coastal areas of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, as Hurricane Florence – the most powerful storm to threaten the Carolinas in nearly three decades – is expected to strengthen, say forecasters.

Officials warn there is a chance of “life-threatening inundation from rising water” over the next 48 hours as Florence heads for the US East Coast.

With sustained winds of about 130 miles per hour the weather system is currently a category four storm.

It could make landfall on Thursday, near Wilmington, North Carolina.

According to BBC News, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference today: “This storm is a monster. It’s big and it’s vicious.

“It is an extremely dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane.”

The latest National Weather Service (NWS) update this morning says Florence is expected to “continue a slow strengthening trend for the next day or so”.

It could weaken on Thursday, according to current predictions, but officials cautioned Florence will most probably remain “an extremely dangerous major hurricane through landfall”.

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