CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for parts of the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts ahead of Hurricane Florence, which is expected to make landfall Friday morning.
Florence was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane Monday afternoon mere hours after being upgraded to a Category 3.
During a press conference Tuesday, NC Governor Roy Cooper issued a mandatory evacuation order for the Barrier Islands.
“This storm is so fierce... We need to make sure these people get out,” Cooper said.
Just after 10 a.m. Monday, a mandatory evacuation was ordered for all visitors and residents on Hatteras Island, effective at 12 p.m. Monday. A mandatory evacuation for residents and visitors in other areas of Dare County goes into effect beginning Tuesday at 7 a.m.
Dare County officials made the announcement on Twitter:
Just before 3 p.m. Monday, SC Governor Henry McMaster held a press conference announcing full coastal mandatory evacuations - which went into effect at noon on Tuesday - for the counties of Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry.
McMaster said all schools in the affected counties would also be closed.
The governor said lanes would be reversed to assist with the evacuations and to make sure no one came into the evacuated areas.
The University of North Carolina Wimington issued mandatory evacuations for students starting Monday at noon. They also canceled classes at that time.
"Students are encouraged, but not required, to leave campus for a safer location. Classes are officially canceled after 12 p.m., and the grading and attendance policies are suspended," the college said. "The university will continue monitoring the situation in close collaboration with the National Weather Service and state and local agencies, and will share updates as they develop via campus email, the UNCW homepage, and the university’s Facebook and Twitter feeds."
Coastal Carolina University also canceled classes beginning Tuesday.
“In an abundance of caution, CCU will cancel classes on Tuesday and will provide 24 hours’ notice before classes are resumed,” the CCU stated on its website. You can see specific plans for students and residents here.
NC State University announced Monday afternoon that classes would be suspended beginning Wednesday Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. The university is also cancelling their football game with West Virginia University.
UNC-Chapel Hill issued an alert canceling classes beginning Tuesday at 5 p.m. through Friday. The university is urging students to leave the Chapel Hill area and travel back home before the storm arrives. The university has cancelled all home sporting events over the weekend.
Clinton College in Rock Hill issued a mandatory evacuation as the hurricane is projected towards the South Carolina coast. The evacuation goes into effect beginning Tuesday with plans to reopen Monday Sept. 17.
UNC Charlotte has cancelled classes as well, beginning with evening classes on Wednesday Sept. 12 and morning classes on Thursday Sept. 13.
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines issued travel alerts for anyone flying to, from or through areas that may be affected by Hurricane Florence.
American Airlines flights traveling across North and South Carolina, including Charlotte Douglas, may all offer customers an opportunity to change their flight plans without an additional fee.
The airline will waive change fees for travelers who are flying American Airlines, bought their ticket by Sept. 10, are scheduled to travel between Sept. 13-16, can travel from Sept 10-19, do not change their origin or destination, and will re-book in the same cabin or pay the difference.
Find out more online or by calling American’s reservations office at 800-433-7300.
Delta Airlines tweeted Monday evening that they are issuing travel waivers due to Hurricane Florence.
United Airlines is also offering complimentary options to change travelers' flights due to the hurricane.
Amtrak has cancelled trains headed towards Charlotte from New York City and Raleigh. Travelers can view additional cancellations here.
Thirty-four Wells Fargo branches in South Carolina will be closed as precaution for employees and customers. Customers can continue to bank online and over the phone at 1-800-TO-WELLS.
At 11 a.m., Gov. Cooper held a press conference about the upcoming storm. He said that other coastal communities were expected to release evacuation orders soon as well.
The governor said 200 National Guard troops were activated, and that “many more” were standing by. He also said other states had offered help with vehicles, equipment and crews.
On Sunday, Gov. Cooper and Gov. McMaster both declared a State of Emergency in each state as Florence’s trajectory shows the storm heading toward the Carolina coast.
Gov. Cooper says emergency management officials are working with federal officials to prepare the state for any potential impacts.
According to the National Hurricane Center, there is an increasing risk of coastal storm surge flooding and freshwater flooding from heavy rainfall when the hurricane approaches the U.S.
NHC says there is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence and that South Carolina should closely monitor the latest developments on the hurricane’s path.
A lot of things can and will change between now and Thursday, so remember to keep tuned to WBTV for the very latest on Florence and download the free WBTV Weather app for your mobile device here.