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The South Carolina Governor has ordered a mandatory evacuation on Monday of up to one million residents of the USA state's eastern coast ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence.

The hurricane was gaining strength as it traveled over warm Atlantic waters, about 1,240 miles (2,000 km) east-southwest of Cape Fear, North Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

Florence's center will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday, according to the center.

The massive hurricane poses a serious threat as it barrels toward a landfall somewhere along the East Coast on Thursday.

For Central Florida, Florence will bring significant wave activity along our Atlantic coast, a risky high rip current threat, and possible coastal erosion due to the crashing waves.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence is expected to slam into the coast around North and SC as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane on Thursday or Friday.

"Florence is. expected to remain an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday", the hurricane center warned. "Storm Surge and Hurricane watches could be issued for portions of these areas by Tuesday morning". Residents should continue preparing for the likelihood of direct impacts from the storm, which could include intense flooding, rainfall, damaging winds, large and risky surf and storm surge.

The governors of Virginia, North Carolina and SC all declared states of emergency.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said that he asked President Donald Trump for federal disaster declaration, which would make the states eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement. Drawing energy from the warm water, the now Category 2 storm could be a fearsome Category 4 with winds of 130 miles per hour (209 kph) or more by Tuesday.

The National Hurricane Center says Isaac has become the fifth hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season.

The overall track remains consistent with a potential landfall from Wilmington, North Carolina to Nags Head, North Carolina.

On North Carolina's Outer Banks, Dawn Farrow Taylor, 50, was gathering photos and important documents and filling prescriptions Monday before heading inland. Still, the storm would produce flooding rains across a large part of the U.S. South, expanding the damage, according to Enki Research's Watson.

CNN's forecasters warn that Florence could be the strongest and most devastating hurricane to hit North and SC in about three decades.

"We are in the bull's eye", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said at a news conference.

Gov. Rick Scott released a statement on Monday urging Floridians to be prepared for the unexpected and remain on alert about Hurricane Florence.

In Guam, Typhoon Mangkhut - a Category 4 storm - narrowly missed dealing a direct blow to the island.

The National Weather Service advised people to put together a hurricane emergency kit that "will contain one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered or hand cranked radio, a flashlight, a first aid kit, moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation, and a charged backup battery for your cell phone".

Universities closer to the North Carolina coast had already announced cancellations.