09:32 GMT +318 January 2020
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    Florence has already gained strength to become a Category 3 hurricane but could become a Category 4 with maximum sustained winds by the time it reaches North Carolina.

    The US state of North Carolina has activated 200 members of its national guard ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence, the state's Governor Roy Cooper said in a press briefing on Monday.

    "We have 200 national guard troops that have been activated and we have many more who are there and ready to serve and to be activated when we need them," Cooper told reporters.

    In the meantime, the US Navy decided to withdraw 30 ships based in Norfolk, Virginia, ahead of the hurricane, ABC News reported on Monday, citing the military.

    In addition, authorities of states that could be in the trajectory of the hurricane have warned residents to be ready for evacuation.

    Florence has already gained strength to become a Category 3 hurricane but could become a Category 4 with maximum sustained winds of 130-156 miles per hour by the time it reaches North Carolina late Thursday night or early Friday morning, Cooper said.

    "Satellite data indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 mph (185 km/h) with higher gusts — a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday," the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a press release on Monday.

    As of 11 a.m. EDT (3 p.m. GMT), Hurricane Florence was located about 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving west at 13 mph (20 km/h), the NWS added.

    "On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the coast of South Carolina or North Carolina on Thursday," the release said.

    Cooper stated that he has spoken with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long and plans to speak with governors from nearby states throughout the day to coordinate efforts ahead of the storm.

    The Pentagon said 750 members of the National Guard in the US state of South Carolina have been activated, and an emergency declaration in the US state of Virginia clears the way for that state's governor to activate the National Guard if needed.

    The NWS warns of life-threating storm surges, freshwater flooding, heavy rainfall in the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

    evacuation, hurricane, US Navy Norfolk Base, Virginia, North Carolina
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