Southeast, is expected to make landfall in the coming hours. And that's just the prelude to untold days of misery.
Using computer graphics The Weather Channel showed how far inland Hurricane Florence's surge can reach, following low-lying streams. "Catastrophic effects will be felt". As if the storm itself is not risky enough, it is expected to spawn tornadoes in southeast North Carolina on Thursday and Friday. "Tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded, and many more by rising rivers and creeks".
Florence's maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 165 kph after it was downgraded to a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the NHC.
"Those outer bands are just as destructive as areas that come close to the walls, so it's going to be a very long overnight for a lot of people between Virginia all the way down to Georgia", Dresner said.
The storm surge will be near and to the right of where the eye of the hurricane makes landfall. That's enough to fill more than 15 million Olympic-size swimming pools. The power company has warned that up to 3 million people could be left without power for an extended period of time following Hurricane Florence.
"It's cumulative damage", Myers said. So will the trees. "So will the power lines, as the trees fall down". At the same time, some areas can see up to 15 inches of rain, with a few places experiencing up to 30 inches.
NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook the storm surges could push as far as 3km inland. The Category 1 storm has maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour and is moving slowly, at 6 miles per hour.
Several residents fled the coast under both mandatory and voluntary evacuations.
"You put your life at risk by staying", Cooper said.
Cheryl Browning lives with her husband and son, who has terminal cancer, in Richlands, North Carolina.
Florence is forecasted to to meander southward through SC after landfall, then it will eventually get caught in the upper level flow and move out of the region. "It's chilling, even from space", said Gerst.
In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland. They also have three dogs and three parrots.
It is the storm's movement and not its strength that has forecasters and officials anxious. "Flooding is nearly guaranteed".
The impact is expected to be similar to that of Hurricane Harvey on the Houston area past year, Feltgen said. She packed up what she could and took a ferry.
It said the additional declaration would bring more federal help with debris removal, search and rescue teams, meals and generators, among other items. Florence, a storm expected to significantly impact the U.S.