‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Florence has winds of 220 km/h; over 1 million ordered to evacuate

Click to play video 'Hurricane Florence to hit Wilmington by late Wednesday' Hurricane Florence to hit Wilmington by late Wednesday
WATCH: Hurricane Florence is expected to hit Wilmington, North Carolina by late Wednesday bringing with it up to a metre of rain. Global News chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell is on location with the latest on this developing storm.

UPDATE: Over 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate along the Carolina coast and head for higher ground amid Hurricane Florence’s approach.

Hurricane Florence is gearing up to pound the eastern U.S. coastline as it racks up maximum winds of 220 km/h, making it an “extremely dangerous” storm system which strength is only expected to grow.

The “major” hurricane was about 845 kilometres south-southeast of Bermuda on Monday and moving toward land at approximately 20 km/h, according to an advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

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Florence’s centre was expected to move over the Atlantic Ocean between the Bahamas and Bermuda on Tuesday and Wednesday before approaching North and South Carolina on Thursday.

Gusts from the hurricane are blowing even faster than 220 km/h, according to the NHC.

By way of comparison, the maximum intensity of Hurricane Maria, the storm system which path of destruction left almost 3,000 people dead in Puerto Rico, was 277.8 km/h, (150 knots), the NHC said.

But the landfall intensity of that storm was 250 km/h when it hit Puerto Rico, it added. The hurricane caused an estimated $90 billion in damage there and on the U.S. Virgin Islands, making it the third-costliest hurricane in American history.

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

Hurricane-force winds are extending up to 65 kilometres from the storm’s centre, while tropical-storm-force winds are blowing out at up to 240 kilometres.

The hurricane is generating swells that are already affecting Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast.

The NHC warned they’re likely to cause “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”

‘The bull’s eye’

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered an estimated 1 million residents of the coast to move further inland, while states of emergency were declared in his state, as well as North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.

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Meanwhile, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said his state was in the storm’s “bull’s eye.”

There were mandatory evacuation orders for over 50,000 people from Ocracoke and Hatteras, which make up the southern part of the Outer Banks barrier islands in North Carolina.

Evacuations were also expected for at least 250,000 more people from the northern Outer Banks.

Waves were seen crashing over the main highway in Hatteras Island.

  • With files from Reuters