The National Weather Service upgraded Hurricane Florence to a Category 4 storm, meaning it is capable of creating “catastrophic” damage.
Florence now has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, the center said.
Forecasters say the probability of a direct hit on or near New Jersey was very small.
Alex Staarmann, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said the storm is being held away from New Jersey by a high pressure ridge that has been growing and getting strongther over the eastern United States during recent days.
Conditions elsewhere could become catastrophic. Only three Category 4 hurricanes have made landfall in the Carolinas in recorded history. Florence could become the fourth, according to Brian L Kahn, senior reporter at Earther.
Forecasts indicate Florence will continue to undergo rapid intensification, which means the storm will see sustained winds increase at least 35 mph over a 24-hour period.
“Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday,” said the National Hurricane center’s Monday morning update.
More than a million people were ordered to evacuate a huge stretch of the eastern U.S. coastline as Hurricane Florence approached.
“We’re not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina,” said Governor Henry McMaster, who announced that eight counties along the state’s 187-mile coastline would begin to evacuate on Tuesday.
Research shows the magnitude of rapidly intensifying Atlantic storms is increasing.
“With Hurricanes Florence, Isaac, and Helene churning in the Atlantic, it’s safe to say that hurricane season is here in full-force,” said Kahn.
Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for most of Hawaii as tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rain move in Tuesday night into Wednesday.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!