The NHC said Florence is expected to be an "extremely unsafe major hurricane" when it makes landfall in the Carolinas late Thursday or early Friday, bringing life-threatening storm surge to coastal areas.
"Florence is a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale", it noted. Hurricane warnings are issued 36 hours before tropical storm force winds hit the areas.
Florence is slow moving in its approach but carries maximum sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour.
Several prominent beaches along North Carolina's southern coast closest to where Florence was expected to pass as of Wednesday morning were under the mandatory evacuation order.
The second map includes the regions that could be impacted by Florence, whether that's from wind, flooding, or coastal storm-surge. There are 5.25 million people under hurricane warnings and watches and another 4.89 million under tropical storm watches and warnings.
The massive storm is threatening the East Coast of the United States with an expected landfall early Friday.
Forecasters said parts of North Carolina could get 20in of rain, if not more, with as much as 10in elsewhere in the state and in Virginia, parts of Maryland and Washington DC. That funding can not be spent on disaster response, they said.
"A storm with the track of Florence is unprecedented".
"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
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The flooding will depend whether Florence slows down and lingers over coastal areas as it moves inland, Salna says.
"We've had some changes in the storms direction, some that are concerning us", Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said Wednesday.
Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte. It is the most unsafe of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.
"A motion toward the northwest is forecast to begin by this afternoon and continue through Thursday", the hurricane center says. Even normal water is warm enough for a storm to form there, but this adds to the storm's fuel and its rainfall.
The Post reports that the storm could cause the sea level to rise by 9 feet at its peak and heavy winds have the potential to take down trees and damage property.
The overall trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".