"After that time, an increase in southwesterly shear, upwelling, and interaction with land is likely to lead to some weakening, however, Florence is expected to remain a risky major hurricane as it approaches the coastline".
Areas along the coast from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, NC, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers may experience storm surges from 9 to 13 feet.
Florence's large size - tropical storm force winds extend 170 miles from the center in all directions - means its fury will arrive long before the center of the storm comes ashore, Graham said.
A long stretch of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard remained vulnerable to hurricane and tropical storm conditions, from Georgia north through the Carolinas into Virginia.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned it would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and into the northeastern coast of SC in spots.
It said the hurricane was about 520 miles (820km) southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Wednesday.
As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center showed Florence as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour moving west-northwest at 16 miles per hour.
In addition to the dangers the expected deluge of water poses, the hurricane center cautioned, "A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina beginning late Thursday morning".
Up to 1.7 million people are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and coastal residents were frantically boarding up homes and businesses and hitting the road on Wednesday as the storm approached. All three states ordered mass evacuations along the coast.
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"The Bluebirds did well to reach the top-flight, but the truth is they look set for a quick return and it is likely to be a long afternoon for Neil Warnock's side at the Bridge".
President Trump plans to visit Florence-impacted areas next week
People online were aghast that the president would somehow blame Democrats for an accurate death toll being reported. There are also no state or federal guidelines in the U.S. for calculating storm or hurricane-related deaths.
Everything you need to know about Hurricane Florence
Friday , then stall over the Wilmington region, dumping up to 35 inches of rain and prompting worry of "extreme" flash flooding. The Union Point Park Complex is seen flooded as the Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina , on Thursday.
In the first report of storm-related fatalities, a mother and infant died after a tree fell on a house in Wilmington, North Carolina, according to local police.
"Historical rainfall amounts from #Florence are possible with UNPRECEDENTED flooding", according to the National Weather Service office in Newport and Morehead City, on North Carolina's coast. By late Wednesday, authorities in North Carolina reported almost 7,000 evacuees staying in 71 emergency shelters throughout the state. It had been projected to shift north after making landfall.
"The eye of Florence remains very distinct in infrared satellite imagery this morning".
Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said over 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.
A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations hard or risky.
The slow movement, combined with the massive amount of moisture this storm holds, will bring risky rains - from 20 to 30 inches in coastal North Carolina, with 40 inches possible in isolated areas, the weather service says.
In neighboring Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan said his state was readying for potentially "historic and catastrophic rainfall, life-threatening flooding, and high winds". She said it will become a "major flooding event".
More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse.
To back up that point, Graham cited a sobering statistic: "50 percent of the fatalities in these tropical systems is the storm surge - and that's not just along the coast".