September 10, 2018 3:05 pm
Updated: September 10, 2018 8:48 pm

From space, Hurricane Florence looks like a beast as it churns towards U.S. East Coast

ABOVE: Astronauts on the International Space Station captured images of Hurricane Florence on Monday as the now-Category 4 made its way to the U.S. East Coast.

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Hurricane Florence rapidly formed into a powerful Category 4 storm Monday as it churned towards the U.S. East Coast.

According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, Florence rapidly strengthened into a “major” hurricane early Monday morning that will likely bring a “life-threatening” storm surge along portions of the East Coast.

READ MORE: As Hurricane Florence approaches land, stocks in building supplies and car rental rise

The weather agency also warned “life-threatening freshwater flooding is likely from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event.”

The storm is on track to hit the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic region as early as Thursday, according to the hurricane centre.

WATCH: Hurricane hunter flies missions to track Hurricane Florence

“The earliest reasonable time that tropical-storm-force winds will reach the coast of the Carolinas is Wednesday night, but the most likely time is Thursday morning,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane Florence rapidly formed into a powerful Category 4 storm Monday as it churned towards the U.S. East Coast.

Astronaut Ricky Arnold/NASA/Twitter

Astronaut Ricky Arnold, onboard the International Space Station, captured the hurricane churning in the Atlantic as it morphed into a monster storm.

Astronaut Ricky Arnold captured this image of Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Monday, September 10, 2018.

NASA

Arnold also captured hurricanes Isaac and Helene lining up behind Florence in the Atlantic.

Hurricane Florence as seen from the International Space Station on Monday, September 10, 2018.

NASA

The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia declared states of emergency far ahead of the approaching storm.

WATCH: Virginia governor explains preparations made for Hurricane Florence

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“Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of South Carolina and is going to go way inshore,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said. The state’s emergency management agency said it is “preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster.”

READ MORE: Hurricane Florence grows to Category 4, forecasters call it potentially ‘catastrophic’

Preparations for Florence were intensifying up and down the densely populated coast. Since reliable record-keeping began more than 150 years ago, North Carolina has only been hit by one Category 4 hurricane: Hazel, with 210 km/h winds in 1954.

Hazel also wreaked havoc on Southern Ontario, dumping over 200 milimetres of rain on Toronto alone, while packing winds over 100 km/h. The storm was responsible for over 80 deaths in the city.

WATCH: Two storms brewing in the Atlantic

–with a file from the Associated Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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