Because the storm will slow it moves over the eastern Carolinas, these wind impacts will be magnified.
The impact of Florence will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, unsafe surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes. Surges as high as 9-to-13 feet are now forecast from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout.
Although the suggestive graphic was presumably an accident, it is somehow a fitting representation for a storm that has already been described as "tremendously big and tremendously wet" in a White House briefing from Donald Trump this Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of homes and businesses could be flooded in North Carolina alone, Governor Cooper warned.
Florence's maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 165 kph after it was downgraded to a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the NHC.
"I don't care if this goes down to a Category 1".
"Just because the wind speeds came down, the intensity of this storm came down to a Category 2, please do not let your guard down", said FEMA Administrator Brock Long.
Rain projections also increased, with some locations along the North Carolina coast now expected to get up to 40 inches. That's enough to fill more than 15 million Olympic-size swimming pools.
Hurricane-force winds now extend up to 80 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 195 miles from the center of the storm.
"Hurricane Sandy did a tremendous amount of damage", Kourounis said.
Terrifying as the situation is (I am regularly checking on my folks, who abandoned Charleston for the highlands of North Carolina), there is a silver lining. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.
Preceded first by the storm surge and the winds, heavy rains were picking up as of late Thursday afternoon, the beginning of an onslaught that for some areas may not relent for days.
Forecasters expect Florence to hit the Carolinas early in the morning on September 14.
The zone where these intense winds occur will be narrow and they will last just a few hours, but the effects will probably be severe, similar to a tornado.
Bertha Bradley said she has never favoured evacuating ahead of hurricanes.
Tropical Storm Isaac was east of the Lesser Antilles and expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land. "Many that will accept them only allow one per room".
And there's no way her family could afford that - or the $1,728 per room another hotel quoted.
"Since my husband retired and my health declined, we have his retirement as an income".
"I've watched all the weather and read the local stuff", another resident said. It's a kind gesture but doesn't alleviate Browning's fear. "But I think it'll be OK".
Leaders of the states in the path of the storm have warned people all week to evacuate the most susceptible areas. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind does.
In Carolina Beach, authorities at 8 p.m. stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland. The town is less than 5 feet above sea level and officials worry that as many as 1,000 of the town's 6,300 residents are planning to stay.
Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave. "The storm surge forecast associated with this storm has not changed". Roper St. Francis spokesman Brian DeRoy said all of their major facilities will be open during the storm, but they ask patients with procedures scheduled to call and confirm.
"It's just extremely busy and it's even busier than past year and all at once", Blake said.
Watching the scene unfold from space, German Alexander Gerst, an astronaut on board the ISS, tweeted photos of the enormous storm.
If you're in the path of this storm, get out of it. Pack your stuff into the attic and your auto, grab the preferred kids, pets, and spouse, and head inland. That's on top of the flooding, flying debris, and the other immediate storm-related events that can claim countless lives.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".