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Source: HECTOR RETAMAL / Getty

As Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast of the United States, the governors of Virginia, North and South Carolina have issued mandatory evacuation orders affecting hundreds of thousands of residents in coastal areas.

Florence was upgraded Monday to Category 4. The size of hurricane-force winds doubled over 12 hours from 30 to 60 mph, the National Hurricane Center said Monday afternoon. The wind field is expected to keep growing, which will increase the storm surge and inland wind threats, the service said in a statement.

“The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity,” the NHC said.

A mandatory evacuation order takes effect Tuesday at noon in eight counties along South Carolina’s 187-mile coastline. Starting then, all roads on I-26 and Route 501 will be directed away from the coast, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said.

“This is a real hurricane we have coming,” McMaster said Monday. “We don’t want to risk one South Carolina life.”

Mandatory evacuations start in coastal South Carolina Tuesday at noon.

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