The outer edge of Hurricane Florence began buffeting the Carolinas with wind and rain on Thursday as forecasters warned the monster storm would trigger life-threatening flooding as it assaults the USA east coast.
The cone of probability for Hurricane Florence at 5 a.m. EDT, Sept. 14, 2018. Forecasters say "it can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland".
Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. "We can not underestimate this storm".
According to the BBC, floodwaters may ride up to 13ft (4 metres) and Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, Brock Long, explained: "So this is a very unsafe storm". Sea level rise also adds to storm surge damage: When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, a study found sea-level rise over the 20th century caused more than $2 billion in additional damage in New York City due to the "extra" storm surge it generated. "Please heed the warnings", Mr Brock said: "Your time is running out".
Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale on Thursday evening and was located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Morehead City, North Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 km/h).
A man waves the United States national flag in the wind and rain from from Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 13, 2018. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding. Fortunately for House, he says this storm should not be a devastating event for the beach town in terms of loss of life.
Homeless after losing her job at Walmart three months ago, 25-year-old Brittany Jones went to a storm shelter at a high school near Raleigh.
The result could be catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, fields and industrial sites.
"I'm not going to put our personnel in harm's way, especially for people that we've already told to evacuate", Wrightsville Beach police chief Dan House said.
Roy Cooper warned residents to not let their guard down ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall later this week.
"Don't relax, don't get complacent. Today the threat becomes a reality", he said.
More than three feet of rain is expected in some areas, while tornadoes are possible in eastern and southeastern North Carolina today, where nearly a foot of water has already fallen in just a few hours in some areas.
About 1.7 million residents across the states' coastlines are under mandatory evacuation orders, and tens of thousands of hospital patients and prison inmates have been moved out of Florence's path. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.
An estimated 3 million people across the Carolinas could be without power before long, and the lights may be out for weeks in some areas, said the region's largest provider, Duke Energy.