Forecasters are warning of life-threatening conditions and major flooding.

By Ciara Nugent

Hurricane Florence is rapidly strengthening and is expected to hit the U.S. east coast later this week as a major hurricane, according to the latest forecasted track.

The storm’s center will move northwest between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s expected to become at least a Category 3 hurricane before it hits the mainland U.S. around South Carolina and North Carolina, likely on Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Monday.

As of 5 a.m. ET Monday, Hurricane Florence’s center was about 625 miles southeast of Bermuda and was moving west-northwest at a speed of 9 mph. Florence has maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, though that number is likely to increase as the storm strengthens.

The NHC said there is “an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts for Florence,” citing “storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland and damaging hurricane force winds.”

Forecasters also warned that large swells, which will cause “life threatening surf and rip currents,” are already hitting Bermuda and parts of the east coast. Forecasters also cautioned that Hurricane Florence will “remain an extremely dangerous hurricane” as it tracks towards the mainland U.S.

Given the storm’s expected track and path, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia have already declared states of emergency as authorities prepare to deal with Hurricane Florence.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said Sunday he was asking President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration in anticipation of “significant impacts not only on our state but the entire east coast.”

“Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of South Carolina and is going to go way inshore,” McMaster said at a press conference.