"Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda and are beginning to reach portions of the U.S. East Coast", the NHC said in an advisory. Hurricane Florence's offshore winds are causing swells and rip currents up and down the coast.
He noted: "As a result, people from southeastern Virginia to southern New Jersey could have damaging winds and significant coastal flooding, even if Florence hovers or moves ashore in North Carolina".
Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 miles per hour (220 kph) as it moved west-northwest at 13 miles per hour (20 kph).
Although the path of the Hurricane remains unclear, the center is warning people to "closely monitor the progress of Florence, ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and follow any advice given by local officials". The storm is already 500 miles wide - meaning a large area will be at risk when it nears land.
Tropical storm force winds could begin along the coast Wednesday evening and have the potential to impact the Triangle.
"Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said in its latest bulletin.
Florence is approximately 410 miles south of Bermuda and 975 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, as of 5 a.m. ET, according to the NHC.
The latest projections have the potentially catastrophic storm on course to batter the coasts of the Carolinas on Thursday into Friday. Officials in SC reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so that all major roads led away from the sea to speed evacuations.
"A turn toward the northwest is forecast to occur late Wednesday night", the 5 p.m. update stated.
North Carolinians are bracing for impact as Hurricane Florence barrels toward Wilmington with the Piedmont expected to feel the storm's wrath. Residents in its path are being warned to gather supplies or evacuate, the Weather Channel reported.
The US Navy added that it was sending almost 30 ships from Virginia to sea in order to avoid damage. Meteorologist Chad Meyers told viewers that "this storm gets stronger and stronger" as it approaches the Carolinas, and this coming weekend could be a disastrous one for millions of residents.
A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and Florence will be moving over waters where temperatures are peaking near 85 degrees (30 Celsius), Blake wrote. It is forecasted to move across the Lesser Antilles and into the eastern Caribbean Sea on Thursday. He described the storm as "extremely large and risky".
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