Hurricane Florence could become category 5 before landfall

Hurricane Florence could become a category 5 storm before it hits land in the United States, making it the first one in 2018.

The category 4 storm is expect to make landfall in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia on Thursday night (local time) but will intensify on Wednesday, Global News reports.

"It's such a textbook example of a perfect hurricane. It's almost a perfect circle. Nothing is stopping this storm," Athena Masson, a researcher in environmental sciences at the University of Toronto told Global News.

"We can expect total devastation close to shore and outer banks."

About 1 million people have been forced to evacuate their homes leading to huge traffic jams of residents fleeing path of the hurricane, Reuters reports.

The amount of traffic evacuating was so intense that officials in South Carolina reversed the flow of traffic on major highways leading to them both going in the same direction.

Cars evacuating before Hurricane Florence.
Cars evacuating before Hurricane Florence. Photo credit: Reuters

According the National Hurricane Centre storm surges of up to 3.9 metres are on the way over 48 hours.

Florence is also expected to bring with it a maximum 88cm of water in some areas and maximum sustained winds of 220km/h.

The centre warned residents should take precautions to protect themselves and their property.

"This is a life-threatening situation," it said.  

"Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions."