These maps show what to expect from Hurricane Florence

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Forecasters are also tracking two more hurricanes that have formed to the east of Florence: Hurricane Helene, which strengthened to a Category 2 storm off the west coast of Africa today, and Hurricane Isaac, a Category 1 storm now located roughly halfway between Florence and Helene.

"Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said in a bulletin.

Florence is packing maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.

This week, most major USA airlines are waiving change fees for passengers whose plans change because they are flying to or from cities in the path of Hurricane Florence.

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has also ordered a mandatory evacuation of students while the governor of Virginia has asked residents of low-lying coastal areas to leave.

While a statement from Ralph Northam, Virginia Governor, added that it could be the "most significant hurricane event in decades" before warning of "catastrophic inland flood, high winds and power outages".

Category 4 hurricane winds are in the 130 to 156 mile range, according to the National Hurricane Center. At around 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced that Hurricane Florence had strengthened to a Category 4 storm.

NASA astronaut and current International Space Station resident Ricky Arnold was able to capture the sheer breadth of Hurricane Florence, while showcasing Isaac and an outer band of Helene in new photos posted on Twitter Monday.

Hurricane Florence remained a fierce Category 4 hurricane Tuesday morning after doubling in size a day earlier as it churned toward the Carolina coast.

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A hurricane watch has been issued for the East Coast from Edisto Beach, S.C., to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

North and SC are anticipated to bear the brunt of Florence, which the National Hurricane Center said had strengthened to a Category 3 storm.

According to NPR.org, forecasters expect Florence to reach maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour over the next 36 hours.

Two other hurricanes - Isaac and Helene - have also formed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Preparations for Florence are intensifying up and down the densely populated coast.

"North Carolina faces three threats here".

Florence could bring a deadly coastal storm surge, and inland flooding as far north as Virginia, the NHC said. The National Weather Service reminded residents not to focus on the exact forecast track and intensity when planning for Olivia.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said his state is "in the bullseye" and urged people to "get ready now".

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