(ABC NEWS)- Hurricane Florence is picking up speed and will likely become a major Category 3 hurricane by late Monday morning.
The governors of several Southeast states have urged residents to prepare before the storm makes landfall this week.
Florence could even get close to Category 5 status, with wind speeds near 150 mph.
The storm will likely make landfall Thursday night near the Carolinas, possibly as a Category 4 storm.
Besides devastating storm surge and powerful winds, catastrophic flooding is possible from Virginia to the Carolinas.
Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have all declared states of emergency ahead of Florence’s arrival.
“We are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news conference Saturday.
“I encourage Virginians to monitor forecasts and make their own preparations now,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement.
North Carolina Gov. Ray Cooper added, “Everyone in North Carolina needs to keep a close eye on Florence and take steps now to get ready for impacts later this week.”