With forecasters anxious about a repeat of Hurricane Harvey, which inundated Houston with floodwater a year ago, NHC Director Ken Graham explained to the Associated Press: "It truly is really about the whole size of this storm".
Experts agreed that despite Florence losing some power, it was still poised to sow just as much destruction - if not more.
Pablo Santos, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, told VOA that when the center of Florence comes ashore and shifts north as expected, it will still be "catastrophic" due tin a large extent to the storm surge.
Gerst was in absolute awe of the storm, as we all would be, saying the storm was so wide they could only capture it with a wide angle lens.
Hurricane Florence is at the doorstep of North and SC, and she's not going away anytime soon.
At least 88,000 people were without power in North Carolina with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to the state's emergency management agency.
Cheryl Browning lives with her husband and son, who has terminal cancer, in Richlands, North Carolina.
In certain parts of the North Carolina and South Carolina coastline (particularly the Wilmington, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC area), storm surges are predicted to be higher than ten feet. With the governor of North Carolina calling the storm "a monster" and one Atlantic weather expert predicting that it could be "an unprecedented disaster for North Carolina", mandatory evacuation orders are in effect in many parts of the Carolinas and Virginia.
The fates of the region's furry, feathered and finned friends were also up in the air, as staffers scrambled to secure zoos, aquariums and animal shelters.
A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday.
"On a scale of one to 10, I'm probably a seven in terms of worry, she said".
Overcrowded animal shelters in some North Carolina districts were facing a more grim prospect: euthanizing animals that can't be shipped to safety.
"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said. "That's why we're begging for assistance". "To anyone still unwilling to take this storm seriously".
Where exactly the zone of heaviest rain sets up as the storm meanders inland is more uncertain, but models suggest that it may concentrate in southern North Carolina and northern SC through the weekend. Southeast, is expected to make landfall in the coming hours. "The infrastructure's going to break, the power's going to go out. but we are going to do everything that we can to push forward as quickly as we can to get things back up and working".
"It's really unsafe out right now", Beaufort, NC, Mayor Everette Newton told CNN. We are not giving them information they might need to protect their property.
An estimated 10 million people live in the storm's path, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center, and coastal businesses and homes were boarded up in anticipation.
Winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power.