The outer bands of wind and rain from Hurricane Florence began lashing North Carolina on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) as the monster storm moved in for an extended stay along the Southeastern coast, promising to drench the properties of 10 million people with huge amounts of water.
Beside inundating the coast with wind-driven storm, Florence could dump 20 to 30 inches (51-76 cm) of rain, with up to 40 inches in parts of North Carolina, the National Hurricane Center predicts. Other residents have told CNN they're not evacuating because emergency shelters won't accept pets.
"This is a hurricane event followed by a flood event", said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.
That would actually be Florence's storm surge, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.
Meteorologists for days have watched Florence grow in size, allowing its hurricane and tropical-storm-force winds to spread far out from the center of the storm. Wind gusts from Florence could reach tropical storm force (39+ mph), while sustained winds are expected to be in the 20-30 miles per hour range. The slow forward motion means Florence will batter the area with heavy rainfall, producing up to 40 inches in coastal North Carolina and northeastern SC.
"The traffic control points or lane reversals are still in effect", said Joseph Hill, police chief in Horry County, S.C., at a news conference Wednesday in Myrtle Beach. "I'm going to Charlotte".
Florence is expected to make landfall late Thursday night or early Friday morning, Mountain Time, somewhere between Atlantic Beach, NC and Savannah, GA. Favorable wind patterns. Higher sea levels that exacerbate storm surge.
As North Carolina residents began to feel the first modest effects of a weakened Hurricane Florence on Thursday, forecasters warned the powerful storm will bring seawater surging onto land and torrential...
"Catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are likely" in the areas of the Carolinas and southern-central Appalachians throughout the next week, the Hurricane Center warns.
SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.
"This is a very risky storm", said FEMA's Long, urging people still in evacuation zones to heed orders to flee to safer ground. "Now it might be time for the exam", he said.
The biggest surge should occur just to the north of where the eye of the storm comes ashore, which the Hurricane Center projects in southeastern North Carolina.
Evacuation warnings have been in place for 1.7 million people in the area.
With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH tourists Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.
For some residents, evacuation plans were hampered by gasoline shortages.
The rest of South and North Carolina as well as southwest Virginia may see up to 24 inches of rain. Millions of people were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.
"We call them disasters because they break things", said FEMA's Long. GOES-East is one many satellites in orbit tracking the hurricane as it approaches the Carolinas.
Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however. "We're going to be there to help", Cooper said. "I'm not leaving him here".
"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", said Fisher, 74. "We're ready and God will watch over us". "I learned from the past to keep the ice in the washing machine". Just because of the sheer size of it. "We've already got ice; the cooler's packed". The director of athletics at the University of Tennessee has announced that displaced families are welcome to come to its game on Saturday against the University of Texas at El Paso, free of charge.