Hurricane Florence is expected to strengthen to a major hurricane by Monday night and likely remain “an extremely dangerous” storm through Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“This means that Florence is likely to be a very powerful hurricane as it moves over the western Atlantic toward the southeastern United States,” NHC said. This increases the risk of coastal storm surge flooding and freshwater flooding from heavy prolonged rain.

The hurricane’s latest projected path is centered on Wilmington, North Carolina, and the state is under emergency. “Everyone in North Carolina needs to keep a close eye on Florence and take steps now to get ready for impacts later this week. State emergency management, transportation, health experts and others are making sure North Carolina is prepared for the storm, and I urge the public to review your emergency plans and gather your supplies now,” Gov. Roy Cooper said.

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington issued a voluntary evacuation for students starting at noon Monday and encouraged them to leave the campus this week for a safer location. The university said it may make evacuation mandatory if conditions later require, local daily Dayton Daily News reported.

Raleigh branch of the National Weather Service tweeted Sunday afternoon that as the hurricane’s possible paths begin to narrow, there is “increasing likelihood that significant to life-threatening impacts will be felt across portions of North Carolina. Time to prepare is now; time to take action is very soon!” 

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster too declared an emergency and said the hurricane could grow into a powerful Category 4 storm by Thursday.

“What that means for us is whatever happens, we’re going to have a lot of rain and a lot of wind. Presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of South Carolina,” he said.

City officials offered sandbags to residents of Charleston, South Carolina. Brenda Bethune, Myrtle Beach Mayor, urged residents to secure their homes, however, said it was too early to know if evacuations will be ordered.

Hardware stores and supermarkets at Myrtle Beach were busy ringing up sales of bottled water, plywood and generators Sunday, NBC-affiliated television station WDSU reported.

“Literally, they are filling buggies full of water, shopping carts full of water. They’re coming in and buying water and plates, and that’s about all they’re buying,” Ryan Deeck, grocery department manager at a Walmart, told The Sun News.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, on the other hand, cautioned the hurricane’s path could turn south. “While our state is not under any current weather advisories, in Florida, we know how quickly a major storm can shift its path. Now is the time to get prepared to make sure your family is safe,” he said, NBC News reported.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam too declared a state of emergency ahead of the potential impact from the hurricane.

Florence caused some cruise ships headed to the Caribbean to redirect their routes Sunday morning. Norwegian Dawn, a 2,340-guest ship headed to Bermuda, was redirected to Canada. “A little disappointing because we didn't go to Bermuda, but it's wonderful here,” said passenger Susan Lefave.