The hurricane center said it was still too early to predict its exact path. It poses no threat to land at the time, the center said.
- Hurricane Florence has continued to rapidly intensify, now reaching Category 4 storm strength as it closes in on the Carolinas.
National Guard soldiers are being mobilized in the affected states.
Florence had been affected by wind shear but the conditions in front of Florence are now favorable for development and likely even quicker development. It's expected to strengthen through Tuesday before beginning to weaken.
"It's not just the coast", Graham said. "We don't want to risk one SC life". He said he had asked Trump to declare a federal state of emergency for North Carolina.
If the storm stalls, some areas could see feet of rain, especially if downpours focus over the higher terrain in western North Carolina and southwestern and central Virginia. "Everyone in Virginia needs to prepare", he said. "But this is a serious storm and it does warrant our attention". "We want people to heed the warnings that we are putting out". "They're coming in and buying water and plates, and that's about all they're buying".
Since noon Sunday, a Lowe's in Lumberton, North Carolina, has been sold out of generators, store manager Mackie Singletary said.
In coastal Charleston, South Carolina, city officials offered sandbags to residents.
Helene, meanwhile, was still in the Atlantic's spawning ground for hurricanes off the coast of Africa, swirling with 105 mph winds and forecast to become a major hurricane, about 375 miles west of the Cape Verde islands.
Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 miles per hour (220 kph) as it moved west-northwest at 13 miles per hour (20 kph). Forecasters predicted it would become a risky Category 4 storm before a possible landfall Friday.
"I don't think many of us have ever been through a Category 4".
Helene has sustained winds of 45 miles per hour and is moving west at 13 miles per hour.
States of emergency were declared in the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland.
An evacuation order from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam applies to about 245,000 people, including parts of the Hampton Roads area and Eastern Shore.
"We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst", Hogan said.
Officials in North Carolina were already bracing for impact. "Action today can avoid losses due to Florence".
Storm surge and hurricane watches may be issued Tuesday morning for portions of southeastern U.S. states, the NHC said.
Hurricanes Helene and Isaac are not expected to hit the USA mainland.
Tropical-storm-force winds could reach the coastline as early as Wednesday night, at which point all outdoor preparations should be completed.
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