Hurricane Florence has the potential to bring catastrophic flooding to areas of the eastern United States already soaked by heavy rain and it may be the strongest storm to hit the region in decades.
NHC warned that the combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.
Florence was located about 325 miles (520 km) east-southeast of Myrtle beach, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (175 km per hour), the Miami, Florida-based weather forecaster said.
The storm made landfall on Friday near Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 squeezed between North Carolina's Atlantic coastline and the Cape Fear River.
Hurricane Florence is moving closer to the coast of North and SC, where it is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Thursday. He says it is "exceptionally bad news" if the storm does indeed veer before landfall and hover for a couple days off the coast.
That's because the weather systems that usually push and pull a storm are disappearing as Florence nears land around the border between North and SC. "Disaster is at the doorstep and it's coming in".
The storm has pretty much followed the forecast track through now, but the issue will be Thursday or Friday as it nears the coast and the steering currents collapse.
When asked about Brunswick Nuclear Plant in Southport, he said if the site is going to be hit with hurricane force winds, operators will shut it down at least two hours prior to the expected impact, and operators will stay on site through the storm.
"Our track is very similar to what the National Hurricane Center has", he said.
Emergency declarations were in force in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Mandatory evacuations have been issued for much of the SC and North Carolina coastline. "Florence developed further north and east in the Atlantic than you'd expect for a storm that reaches the US", said Chris Davis, senior scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Duke Energy, the second-largest energy company in the U.S., said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its four million customers in the Carolinas.
With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.
Causey, a former insurance agent who was elected as commissioner in 2016, said the NCDOI has been in touch with agent associations, carriers, FEMA, other states nearby that can provide resources, and the North Carolina Coastal Insurance Property Pool (the Beach Plan), which insures seven out of 10 homes along the state's coast. "We learned in 2015 that every part of state is in a flood zone and people need to have flood insurance".
Officials in New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, have stockpiled enough food and water for 60,000 people for four days, along with more than 28,000 tarps.
"I've never seen the president and all these other people talk the way they're talking", he said while waiting for an evacuation bus.
"The northern side is going to be the worst side of this [hurricane]".