This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and SC but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend.
Radiant Solutions said recent model guidance showed Florence was expected to stall off the coast of North Carolina and drift southwestward parallel to the coast before tracking inland into SC. "We're going to stay tight and check on everybody", he said.
"Forecasts generally project the storm to make landfall between northern SC and North Carolina's Outer Banks as a strong Category 3 on Thursday, although shifts in the track are possible and storm impacts will expand great distances beyond where landfall occurs".
An emergency declaration for all 159 Georgia counties was issued Wednesday by Gov. Nathan Deal following an 11a.m. storm forecast and based on a recommendation from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.
The National Hurricane Center's best guess was that Florence would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line, then push its rainy way westward with a potential for catastrophic inland flooding. Florence, the most ominous for U.S. residents, is expected to make landfall today.
"A lot of our storefronts are boarded up", said Lynn Davis, town manager for Belhaven which sits at sea level in northeastern North Carolina.
"This one really scares me", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said. We're keeping track of it, seeing where it's going to hit and what category it is.
"There's still uncertainty on exactly how inland the hurricane does penetrate".
States up and down the East Coast have a great potential for severe weather.
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A fourth person reportedly was killed while plugging in a generator in the state's Lenoir County, according to USA media. Roy Cooper said Friday that Florence is "wreaking havoc" and he's concerned "whole communities" could be wiped away.
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As Florence closes in on the U.S. East Coast, its track has shifted slightly to the south, threatening to batter a wide swath of coastline as it makes landfall near Myrtle Beach.
But his partner, Emily Whisler, said she will stay at the university where she is a resident in the psychiatry program.
Making matters worse for insurers, forecasters say that Florence may stall over land, potentially dumping rain for days and causing power failures.
Florence is expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday (Sept. 13 or 14), likely as a Category 3 hurricane, meaning it will have winds blowing at a minimum of 111 miles per hour (178 km/h), Samson said.
"This is a very fluid situation, especially now that new model runs are shifting the course of the storm south after landfall, potentially increasing its impact on SC and Georgia", St. Mary's Hospital spokesman Mark Ralston said.
"We'll be asking people to prepare their emergency kit", Cooper said.
National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina, said the latest models show Florence reaching a "ridge" building over the eastern US, stalling and then moving into SC.
Forecast maps show Florence stalling out just off the coast of the Carolinas for at least 24 hours, starting Friday morning.
Some areas are expected to see between 20 and 30 inches of rain through early next week in the area shaded in purple in the second image above.