Hurricane Florence eyes Carolinas; first watches issued

(RNN) - People along the Carolinas coastline are bracing for a major hurricane heading their way later this week.

Located about 950 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, NC, Hurricane Florence was packing maximum-sustained winds of 130 mph and moving to the west-northwest at 15 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.

A storm surge watch was issued Tuesday morning from Edisto Beach, SC, to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including Albemarle and Palmico sounds. A hurricane watch was issued for the same areas.

Watches are issued 48 hours before the first expected occurrence of weather events. As the storm nears shore, those watches will become warnings.

Expected to make landfall by early morning Friday, most likely along the coast of North Carolina, the impact of the Category 4 storm will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, dangerous surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes.

Governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland have already declared states of emergency, and some evacuation orders for low-lying areas were issued Monday.

A number of major airlines have issued travel advisories for areas expected to be hit by Florence, including American, Delta, Southwest, Spirit and United, CNN reported.

Forecasters expect the storm to linger over the Carolinas once it makes landfall, dumping rain, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham told the Associated Press.

The hurricane will also bring large swells to the U.S. coast and Bermuda.

The Atlantic and Pacific basin has become very active recently, with the weather map dotted with tropical disturbances.

Hawaii is bracing for Tropical Storm Olivia, which could reach the Pacific island by Wednesday, KHNL reported. Portions of the island state are under a tropical storm warning ahead of the storm's impacts.

The governor of Hawaii, David Ige, has declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm, the impacts of which will begin to be felt Tuesday night.

Forecasters said Tropical Depression Paul in the Pacific, spinning off the coast of Baja California, will become a remnant low later in the week.

In the Atlantic, Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac are swirling out in the Atlantic, with Tropical Storm Isaac a potential future threat for the Lesser Antilles.

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