Tropical Storm Florence turned into a hurricane Sunday morning and swirled toward the U.S. for what forecasters said could be a direct hit on the Southeast toward the end of the week.
The storm's sustained winds reached 75 mph (121 kph), just over the threshold for a hurricane, as it made its way across the Atlantic, about 750 miles (1,210 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, the National Hurricane Center said. It was moving west at 6 mph.
The Miami-based center said that it was still too early to predict the hurricane's exact path but that a huge coastal area from northern Florida to North Carolina should prepare for a major hit.
It is forecast to approach the southeastern U.S. coast on Thursday.
The governors of North and South Carolina and Virginia declared states of emergency to give them time to prepare, and the Navy said ships in Virginia's Hampton Roads area would leave port for their own safety.
Dangerous swells generated by Florence affected Bermuda and have begun to reach parts of the Eastern Seaboard.
Cruise lines are redirecting their ships to avoid the path of Hurricane Florence. Carnival Cruise Line said Sunday that it had changed the schedule of its cruise ships to accommodate tropical weather threats. Carnival Pride was scheduled to leave Baltimore and head to Bermuda during a week-long cruise. Instead, the ship will now head to The Bahamas.
The company also said that Carnival Horizon has canceled plans to visit San Juan in Puerto Rico on Sunday. It is expected to arrive in New York on Sept. 13.
In addition, in order to avoid Tropical Storm Isaac, the cruise line reversed the schedule for Carnival Vista. The ship will call on St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan and Amber Cove before returning to Miami on September 16.