WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — As Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington is encouraging its students to leave campus this week for a safer location.

The university said Sunday that it has issued a voluntary evacuation for students starting at noon on Monday. That means students are urged but not required to leave and classes are canceled.

The National Hurricane Center says it is still too early to predict the hurricane's exact path, but a huge coastal area from northern Florida to North Carolina has been urged to remain on guard for the possibility of a major hit later in the week.

A statement from the university says officials will continue monitoring the forecast and that additional actions required may include a mandatory evacuation or campus closure.