Those surges alone are projected to cause inland flooding of more than 9 feet in cities like New Bern, North Carolina, even without the expected 15 to 20 inches of rain.
Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall in the Eastern Seaboard on Thursday and Friday. As the storm moves inland it will find a relatively flat area for hundreds of miles. The Charleston area is under a storm surge watch.
According to meteorologist Eric Holthaus, even though Florence's winds might not be as strong, Florence could be much worse than Hugo.
"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the briefing said.
This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Showers and blustery conditions are likely Friday and Saturday.
Florence was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane late Wednesday night as it approached North and SC. The eye of that hurricane merely grazed the coast.
Hurricane Florence, now a Category 2 storm, is slowly approaching the USA coast, and the storm's massive fury is on full display in video footage taken from the International Space Station.
The National Hurricane Center warned the threat of tornadoes was increasing as Florence neared shore and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the heavy rains could trigger landslides in the western part of his state.
NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook the storm surges could push in as far as 2 miles (3 km). Despite the fact that the hurricane has been downgraded to Category 2, the 80 miles per hour winds and coastal flooding will still cause significant damage throughout the southeast. "We know that this is an extremely unsafe situation", Cooper told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm's strength should continue through Thursday.
- High winds and floodwaters could knock power out for several days, if not longer, officials said.
Now, many more people and houses are set to endure hurricane-force winds, which extend 80 miles out from Florence's center.
Still, the storm has the capacity for huge destruction.
Florence is now a strong Category 2 storm. "We're about to be in the thick of it".
Because most are managed as wild animals, numerous horses will be left to fend for themselves, said Paula Gillikin of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve.
"He is the only caregiver to me and my son", Browning said. "Until we can't. See what happens".
"It doesn't matter where you are", he said.
"This is a powerful storm that can kill", said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in a Thursday press briefing.
Six feet of storm surge could carry large objects like cars underwater and leave lower levels structures submerged in water, according to Dr Postel.
Empty stores and packed houses alike sit boarded up and bolstered with sandbags, and the streets are empty with curfews in effect in many areas.
Navarro concluded by emphasizing again that this is a serious life-threatening situation and people need to be evacuating. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other risky conditions", the hurricane center briefing said. Here's why this storm threatens not only the coast but millions of people inland.
More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate - but the window to do so in nearly over. On Thursday morning, South 17th Street, usually teeming with commuter traffic by 6:30 a.m., was almost devoid of cars.