The U.S. Coast Guard said Monday that Tropical Storm Florence has strengthened to Category 3 strength, the third strongest storm to hit the Southeast in decades.
A U.N. storm surge watch remains in effect for most of South Carolina and the Carolinas.
The agency said Florence’s maximum sustained winds were at 140 mph (250 kph) Monday, according to its National Hurricane Center.
The hurricane made landfall Monday night near the coast of Cape Fear, S.C., and was centered about 45 miles (75 kilometers) northwest of the Cape Fear River in Beaufort, S., about 120 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Charleston.
It is the third storm to make landfall in the U.C.S., after Hurricane Hugo in 2004 and Hurricane Wilma in 2010.
Wilma was a Category 2 storm and the first storm to cause major damage in the Southeast, with more than 5,500 deaths and more than 1 million homes destroyed.
The hurricane has made landfall in South Carolina as a Category 4 hurricane, which means the hurricane could bring catastrophic flooding to coastal areas and widespread destruction.
Wilmas center of gravity is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west-southwest of the coast, according the U .
National Hurricane Centre.
The center of Florence’s center of rotation is about 85 miles (135 kilometers) south-northeast of the coastal city of Florence, South Carolina.
The U. S. National Weather Service says Florence is moving toward the Carolina with winds of 100 mph (160 kph), and is expected to make an landfall sometime in the next 24 hours.