Bermuda, parts of the Bahamas and the northeast USA coast may also feel some effects from Hurricane Florence.
The National Weather Service calls it a "storm of a lifetime" - and for good reason. In other words, this hurricane will basically stall - pounding the same parts of the Carolinas over and over again. While a fast-traveling hurricane might blow off some shingles, a relentless onslaught such as this could easily blow off roofs or destroy houses.
"This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective", University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle. These unforgiving winds will damage homes and buildings, down trees and knock out power.
The full force of Hurricane Florence is expected to hit on Friday.
On Tuesday, hurricane-force winds stretched 40 miles out from the center, Miller said.
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The storm was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon.
"We immediately gave up our hotel rooms so that more rooms are now available to those coming inland".
But astonishing winds aren't the biggest danger.
Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long said storm surge warnings have not changed despite the weakening intensity of the winds. A high-pressure ridge over the Central and Eastern US is said to be blocking the storm's further movement along its original vectors, though it could still curve again once over land. The more it hovers just off shore, the more potentially deadly storm surge it could push on-shore.
Storm surge is basically a wall of seawater that could fall on and swallow parts of the coast. It ranged 59 to 83 feet Wednesday morning.
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In addition, the threat of storm surges looms for areas in the path of the storm, meaning life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland is possible in the next 36 hours.
Coastal North Carolina felt the first bite of Hurricane Florence on Thursday as winds began to rise, a prelude to the slow-moving tempest that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the USA southeast.
The Miami-based center said in an update at 11 p.m. that the storm's eye was about 50 miles south of Morehead, City, North Carolina. The Charleston area is under a storm surge watch. "So this is not just going to be a coastal threat".
Parts of eastern North Carolina and SC could see up to 20 inches of rain, in addition to storm surge. His state has already endured record rainfall, with much more forecast to come. So the land can't absorb much more water.
"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said.
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When flight operations can resume will depend on how long Florence sticks around, and forecasters predict it could sit and drench areas of the Carolinas with a deluge of rainwater over a couple of days. It's predicted the fierce weather system will linger over the Carolina coast for days, not hours.
And in the 29 years since Hurricane Hugo struck, the population of the coastal Carolinas has skyrocketed.
It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.
"Many of the people here have never seen a storm this strong".
"We're a resilient bunch down here".
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The powerful hurricane bearing down on the east coast of the U.S. has led airlines to cancel more than 1,245 flights and waive change fees for travellers affected by the storm, USA Today reports. "But this is pretty serious". We can not guarantee that it is suitable for the visually or hearing impaired.