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Hurricane Florence Is Now A Category 4 Storm, Here's What You Need To Know

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Although this year hasn't seen the level of devastation that the Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria brought on in 2017, experts are still warning those who live along the Atlantic Ocean to exercise caution and prepare for some major storms.

Tropical storm Gordon has already hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, and claimed one life as it made landfall.

Now, the first major hurricane of 2018 is on the way, and has intensified to a Category 4 with 130 mph winds in a matter of hours, according to a special update from the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Florence was about 575 miles southeast of Bermuda as of noon Monday, but its winds are expected to reach 150 mph before making landfall either on the southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast on Thursday night.

Hurricane Florence is currently threatening to bring heavy rains and serious flooding to the East Coast, forcing officials in North and South Carolina to call for evacuations. A mandatory evacuation has been issued for North Carolina's Hatteras Island.

So far, Florence is on track to be the most powerful storm to hit the region in 30 years.  

Prior to the weekend, weather experts monitoring the storm were hopeful the Florence would turn away, but that doesn't appear to be the case anymore.

"There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland, and damaging hurricane-force winds," the hurricane center said.

The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia have all declared states of emergency, and some are asking President Donald Trump to make a federal disaster declaration.

"We are preparing for the worst, and of course hoping for the best," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said. While North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents that they could be without power for a while.

"North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously, and you should, too," Cooper said. He urged those in the coastal communities to put fuel in their cars and figure out the routes in case they are asked to evacuate.

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"Action today can avoid losses due to Florence," he said.

If you live in the areas that may potentially be affected by the storm, you should stock up on food, water, batteries and flashlights. Fortunately, these states have barred stores from price gouging products.

Make sure you also have a first aid kit on hand, and have access to news updates, so you're aware of weather warnings and evacuation orders.

If you made travel plans that require you to fly to airports in the hurricane's path, most major airlines have introduced policies to waive change fees as of Monday evening. Visit your carriers website for more details.

Do you live in the the states that Hurricane Florence is headed towards?

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.