Gov. Roy Cooper sounded the alarm on Hurricane Florence once again Wednesday in a televised appearance with members of his emergency management team.

“This storm is a monster,” he said. “It's big, and it's vicious. It is an extremely dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane. That's why I'm ordering a mandatory state evacuation for our barrier islands.”

In North Carolina, local municipalities are typically in charge of evacuation orders. This appears to be the first time the state has issued such a mandate.

As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Hurricane Florence was a Category 4 storm, with winds churning at more than 130 mph. The eye of the storm also expanded overnight, and Florence is now so wide that it's sending a storm surge 300 miles ahead of its core.

Florence is also expected to intensify as it closes in on the east coast, possibly reaching Category 5 status.

The governor referred to that intensity as he announced the state's evacuation order.

“Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different,” Cooper said. “Don't bet your life on riding out a monster.”

“Wherever you are in North Carolina, get ready for Florence now,” he added.

While weather models are still differing somewhat on the storm's path, it's highly likely that North Carolina's coast will absorb its first strike, potentially stalling once it makes landfall, according to the National Weather Service. From there, it's expected to make its way west through North Carolina, dropping persistent rains and bringing strong winds to the Research Triangle and the Piedmont Triad.

On Monday, President Donald Trump granted Cooper's request for a federal disaster declaration, which opens the door for federal resources to aid North Carolina's recovery.

For those not under mandatory evacuation, Cooper urged readiness.

“Preparation is our best defense, and if you haven't already: the time to prepare is now,” he said.

Typical hurricane preparedness kits include enough water, food, medication and other essentials to last several days.

Additional information about the state's emergency plans are available on the state's website, NC Ready, and via the NC Ready app.

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