The difference between the two groups, prior research has found, is often a difficult-to-forecast process in which the hurricane rapidly strengthens, usually in the presence of highly favourable environmental conditions, such as extra warm seas to considerable depths, lots of available humidity in the air and slack winds around the storm. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster", he said.
The hurricane is gaining pace as it heads for the Carolinas, where 1.7million people have been told to evacuate.
Hurricane and storm watches were issued for the entire coast of North Carolina on Tuesday morning and for parts of the SC coast including Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Wilmington.
Florence could cause serious damage up the coastline, where the Navy sent almost 30 ships to sea from the port of Norfolk on Monday to get out of the way of the storm before it strikes. "That radius extends out much farther than hurricane-force winds do", Wagstaffe said.
If the hurricane remains at sea, the storm surge it produces is minimal. A large swath of Virginia could also see between 10 and 15 inches of rain.
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Why Hurricane Florence Is So Dangerous
The Brunswick Nuclear Plant in Southport, North Carolina , is just a few miles from where Florence is expected to make landfall . The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a "mesmerising loop" showing Hurricane Florence from space.
Michelle Stober loaded up valuables on Tuesday at her home on Wrightsville Beach to drive back to her primary residence in Cary, North Carolina.
The adults packed irreplaceable items such as photo albums and heirlooms while the children stuffed their favorite toys, blankets and books in their bags.
"This is a real hurricane that we have coming and our goal is to protect lives and property", said Steve Goldstein, NOAA liaison to FEMA. "I wish I had more time to sort through and grab more of the sentimental items".
A steady stream of vehicles full of people and belongings flowed inland on Tuesday, and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tried to convince everyone to flee. He's staying put - for now. Don't wait for emergency responders to rescue you. "My home is all my wife and I have, materially speaking, a lifetime of stuff". "We know the storm surge is going to be significant". "We've never left for a storm before".
Ahead of Florence's arrival, barrier islands were already seeing unsafe rip currents and seawater flowed over a state highway, the harbinger of a storm surge that could wipe out dunes and submerge entire communities.
Life-threatening storm surges of up to a staggering 13 feet in some places were also forecast. Residents have been urged to be prepared.
President Donald Trump on September 11 declared states of emergency for North and SC, to open avenues for federal aid. "We are totally prepared", Trump said at the White House.
The hurricane could inundate low-lying islands off the coast of North Carolina, like the Outer Banks and other barrier islands, according to the NHC.
Residents in hurricane evacuation zones had until noon Tuesday to evacuate. Folks have come through wonderfully in the past and again in non-affected areas.