United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a series of storm warnings as Hurricane Florence advanced towards the east coast of the country. Trump said the hurricane was “one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years.”

Florence has been classified as Category 4 storm with sustained winds of around 140mph (220km/h). It is predicted to make landfall near Wilmington in North Carolina late on Thursday, reported BBC.

“To the incredible citizens of North Carolina, South Carolina and the entire East Coast – the storm looks very bad!” tweeted the president. “Please take all necessary precautions. We have already began mobilizing our assets to respond accordingly, and we are here for you!”

The National Hurricane Center said “some strengthening” is expected during the next 36 hours, and it is “expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.” It said hurricane-force winds would “extend outward up to 40 miles (65 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds [would] extend outward up to 150 miles (240 km).”

Officials have ordered mandatory evacuations in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, affecting more than a million people. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has given the entire coastline until Tuesday noon to leave.

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has also ordered a mandatory evacuation of students while the governor of Virginia has asked residents of low-lying coastal areas to leave.

The National Hurricane Center has repeatedly said that warm conditions in the Atlantic Ocean are fuelling the storm, which has been gaining speed and strength at an alarming pace, reported The Independent.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned that Hurricane Florence was forecast to linger over the Carolinas once it reaches shore, reported AP. He warned people living inland of flooding and power cuts.

“It’s not just the coast,” Graham said. “When you stall a system like this and it moves real slow, some of that rainfall can extend well away from the centre.”

The storm’s effects were already apparent on barrier islands as rip currents hit beaches and seawater flowed over a state highway.