Florence continues forward as a Category 4 storm

Florence continues forward as a Category 4 storm

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Forecasters have issued a hurricane warning for parts of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence barrels toward land.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Tuesday that a warning had been issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from north of the North Carolina-Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, Virginia, and for the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Florence was centered 355 miles southwest of Bermuda and about 670 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving west-northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).

A motion toward the west-northwest and northwest is expected through early Thursday.  Florence is expected to slow down considerably by late Thursday into Friday.  On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas through Wednesday, and approach the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 140 mph (220 km/h) with higher gusts.  Florence is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Strengthening is forecast through Wednesday. While some weakening is expected on Thursday, Florence is forecast to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through landfall.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).

RELATED: Hurricane Guide | FPL crews head to areas in Florence's path

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is calling Hurricane Florence a "monster" that residents should not try to ride out in their homes.

At a news conference Tuesday, Cooper had a stern warning for coastal residents who have stayed in their homes during previous hurricanes including Fran in 1996, Floyd in 1999 and Matthew in 2016: This one is different.

Cooper told residents not to "bet your life on riding out a monster."

To reinforce this, Cooper announced he had issued what he called the first-of-its-kind mandatory evacuation order for North Carolina's fragile barrier islands from one end of the coast to the other. Typically local governments in North Carolina make the call on evacuations. Some, including those at the Outer Banks, have already issued orders for the island residents to leave.

Associated Press 2018