A hurricane warning - meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours - is in effect for a long stretch of the coast, from the Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., which is part of the Outer Banks. "We go through a lot of these hurricane scares throughout the years", Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said.
Forecasters urged residents from SC to the mid-Atlantic to get ready - and not just for a direct blow against the coast.
Federal states of emergency have been declared in all three states, and collectively about 1.5 million people have fled the coast under mandatory evacuation orders.
The storm's potential path also includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons. "We are mobilizing the state's resources to make sure we are prepared, and the people of SC must not hesitate to prepare for the possibility of a hurricane impacting our coast".
The cone "is trying to take in some of the uncertainty and show all areas of risk", Joel Cline, a meteorologist and tropical storm coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told Fox News on Tuesday. The storm will bring dangerously high amounts of rain, forecasters say. As the storm encounters the highlands of North Carolina and Virginia, it will likely increase its rate of precipitation.
The East Coast is bracing for Hurricane Florence as it continues to strengthen.
A Category 4 hurricane has winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour on the Saffir-Simpson Scale of Hurricane Intensity.
In the Pacific, Hurricane Olivia triggered warnings for multiple Hawaiian islands.
Florence is continuing to move west-northwest at 17 miles per hour, with winds in the 130 miles per hour range, but is giving hints of deviations, says the National Hurricane Center. "We are taking Hurricane Florence seriously".
Panovich: Right now it looks like landfall is going to occur sometime early Friday morning between, I would say, 4 a.m. and probably about 8 a.m., but it might actually never make it all the way in.
Storm surge is basically a wall of water that could swallow parts of the coast. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different.
North and SC residents are running out of time to evacuate before Hurricane Florence roars in with pounding surf and driving rain that will bring potentially deadly flooding, officials warned on Wednesday.