For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge. The "forecast cone" from the National Hurricane Center extends from Virginia to Alabama as of Wednesday morning.
"This increasingly severe, potentially unprecedented storm is hurdling to the epicenter of animal agriculture in North Carolina", said Will Hendrick, a staff attorney and manager for a water campaign in the state for the Waterkeeper Alliance.
The center reported late Tuesday night that Florence was roughly 670 miles east-southeast of Bald Head Island with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. "The full brunt of a major hurricane (Category 4 or so), then perhaps 30 to 40 inches of rainfall if the storm stalls".
"In response to the impending arrival of Hurricane Florence, the Coastal Carolina home football game versus Campbell originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 15, in Conway, S.C., has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 2 p.m. ET at Barker-Lane Stadium in Buies Creek, N.C.", said Coastal Carolina's release on Monday.
Its centre will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday, the National Hurricane Centre said. They warned the storm could linger for days after making landfall.
"Prolonged and exceptionally heavy" rains will also inundate parts of the coast and inland areas, the National Hurricane Center said. This includes cities in the path of Florence such as Wilmington and Cape Hatteras in North Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia.
The United States was hit with a series of high-powered hurricanes past year, including Hurricane Maria, which killed some 3,000 people in Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Harvey, which killed about 68 people and caused an estimated $1.25 billion in damage with catastrophic flooding in Houston.
The centre of the storm is forecast to meander Thursday, Friday and Saturday over a stretch of coastline saturated by rising seas, inundating several states with rainfall and triggering life-threatening floods.
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"We had already decided. that it was prudent for us to get on the road", McGougan said. "Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 20 inches with isolated maxima to 30 inches near Florence's track over portions of North Carolina, Virginia and northern SC through Saturday".
"This is going to produce heavy rainfall, and it may not move very fast".
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced early Tuesday that federal emergency aid is being made available to the North Carolina in anticipation of damage done by Hurricane Florence.
"That's good news and bad news", he said. The storm was moving northwest at 17mph (28km/h), and was showing signs of strengthening, with category 4 winds of 130mph (215km/h).
The tristate area continues to be among the most costly for motorists, with New Yorkers paying an average of $3.00 per gallon and CT paying $3.04 per gallon. If Florence weakens enough to arrive as a Category 3 storm, it would likely be near the upper limit of that classification.
In addition to Florence, the Atlantic Ocean now has two other strong storms.
Helene is one of three major storms now swirling in the Atlantic.
Meanwhile, the Lesser Antilles are watching Tropical Storm Isaac, which was downgraded from a hurricane earlier Tuesday.