To put things in perspective, any storm surge taller than 12 feet is "life-threatening", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster", he said.
Storm surges up to 3.9 meters (13 feet), the possibility of tornados and nearly a meter of rain in some areas of North and SC were expected when Hurricane Florence makes landfall late Thursday. "It's a big one". The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.
For a swath of the North Carolina shore from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, the storm surge could range from 9-13 feet, the NHC said.
Due to unusual steering patterns in the atmosphere, Florence may crawl southward down the Southeast coast, the opposite direction storms usually travel.
"This is not going to be a glancing blow", warned Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
What's worse: Much of the Carolinas are already saturated from rainfall. It is becoming more certain that Florence will bring a risky storm surge to the Carolina coast and life-threatening flooding farther inland. The track continues to having it make landfall anywhere from SC to portions of Virginia. Residents in some parts of the Carolinas have been ordered to evacuate.
Aside from the storm surge and coastal flooding, expect colossal freshwater flooding as well. Upon its arrival, the National Hurricane Center projects that Florence could drop anywhere from 20-40 inches of rain along the Carolina coast.
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If the storm track brings the center of circulation closer to Georgia, we could see some of that heavy rain as well, particularly in the northeastern mountains where slopes are particularly steep and rainfall amounts will be increased by the mountainous terrain.
Enough rain could fall to break North Carolina's record for a tropical storm - 24 inches - set near Wilmington during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations at the Weather Service's national prediction center.
Crews board up the Oceanic restaurant in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, in preparation for Hurricane Florence. A year ago, people would have laughed off such a forecast, but the European model was accurate in predicting 60 inches for Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, so "you start to wonder what these models know that we don't", University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy said.
Winds shouldn't be much of a factor, and as Panovich said, we shouldn't focus too much on the wind impacts.
An additional 25 percent of deaths are related to rain, he said.
Based on the current forecast track, here is what to expect...