Helene was located about 1,470 miles (2,370 km) south-southwest of the Azores, packing maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour (155 km per hour), the NHC said.
A graphic of Hurricane Florence's path, generated today (Sept. 12) at 2 p.m. ET by the National Hurricane Center, shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow).
A woman walks her bike across a street near a boarded up bar a day before the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington.
The first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) were forecast to hit the coast on Thursday. Eventually, Florence will veer north into the Appalachian Mountains, bringing soaking rains to Virginia and western North Carolina, before sputtering out late next week near DE and Maryland, the FWS reported.
"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast", the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina, wrote on September 11.
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"We're talking about days, potentially weeks", Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said Wednesday night on CNN Tonight. Its new path indicates that after arriving in the area near Wilmington, North Carolina, the storm will dip to the south before resuming a western course, the FWS explained in the statement.
Florence could threaten the largest rainfall event in USA history, Hurricane Harvey, the 2017 whirlwind that settled over Texas and dropped more than 60 inches of rain, turning roadways into rivers, destroying homes and buildings and killing almost 90 people.
The NHC notes that amount of rainfall would "produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding".
"It's a very unsafe storm", Federal Emergency Management Authority administrator Jeff Byard said.
Early Thursday Florence was about 235 miles (378 kilometers) east southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 280 miles (450 kilometers) east southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
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The storm is not expected to change much in strength before making landfall.
In contrast to the hurricane centre's official projection, other forecasts had the storm turning southwards off the North Carolina coast and coming ashore near the Georgia-South Carolina border. The storm is expected to slow down, stall and then perhaps wander just off the Carolina shore as it nears the coast Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Nurse Barbara Mack was using a small shovel to fill sandbags at a public works facility in Charleston, but she saw a silver lining in the hurricane preparations.
Interestingly, the Atlantic Ocean housed three hurricanes at the same time, that before Tropical Storm Isaac being downgraded from its former hurricane status.
Flood waters rise as Florence pummels Carolinas; at least 8 dead
Cline said July was the wettest ever in that part of North Carolina, and the water table rose 21 inches higher than normal. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines.