Cape Lookout is experiencing sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, according to FEMA's 3 p.m. update. It was located about 345 miles east of Guadaloupe. "Don't plan to leave once the winds and rains start".
"It's not a zero event".
"A lot of our storefronts are boarded up", said Lynn Davis, town manager for Belhaven which sits at sea level in northeastern North Carolina.
So we could have two landfalls - one around Wilmington and then one near Myrtle Beach or even south of there.
"It's just extremely busy and it's even busier than a year ago and all at once", Blake said. One emergency official said it will be a "Mike Tyson punch" to the area. "It's a nasty interplay that makes it very hard".
As Hurricane Florence enters warmer coastal waters, it's possible that it could gain strength (warm water is the fuel of hurricanes), but it's still not clear whether it will push up to a Category 3 storm. On Tuesday (September 11), they published a map to their Facebook page showing the extent of the likely wind damage brought to the U.S. as Florence penetrates the Eastern seaboard. Storm surge, the rise in seawater above normally dry land at the coast, could rise a story high.
Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.
By Thursday afternoon, all flight operations were halted at a half-dozen airports along the coast of the Carolinas, and scattered cancellations were reported at other airports.
As the storm - with those winds - nears shallow water along the coast, its forces water inland.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring its devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state. It is updating its outages in North and SC in real-time.
Up to 40 inches of rain could fall in North Carolina.
"Just because we have a landfall to the south doesn't mean your out of the woods because the wind around this storm is huge", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said Wednesday morning.
As of 11 p.m., the storm was centered 280 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 17 mph.
Energy companies have also warned that the storm could knock out power for the foreseeable future in some areas. The ground is saturated with water and unlikely able to withstand the heavy, persistent rains that are expected.
"The rain's going to be around for a long time", he said.
Behind Isaac, Hurricane Helene also continued to deliver good news.
As of 3 PM EST Thursday, the National Weather Service (NWS) warns that "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall" is expected as "winds and rough surf continue to increase along the outer banks and coastal southeastern North Carolina". The hurricane centre also adjusted its projected track, but kept it north of what most computer models were showing, to provide some continuity with past forecasts. Regardless of whether a system forms, they say heavy rain and gusty winds are likely along the Texas and Louisiana coast later this week. Most were scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
Meteorologists are still trying to work out exactly which way the weather system could track, she said, adding: "But at the moment it does look as though it's tracking towards the western side of the United Kingdom and will cross the southern half of the United Kingdom".