Streams of people are fleeing in cars as Hurricane Florence is expected to lash America with winds of up to 157mph - leaving coastal areas submerged in up to 9ft of water.
Even worse: Florence is expected to hover over the Carolinas, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain at least through Saturday.
In addition to inundating the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 9 feet along the Carolina coast, Florence could dump 20 to 30 inches of rain, with up to 40 inches in parts of North Carolina, the NHC said.
Leaders of the states in the path of the storm have warned people all week to evacuate the most susceptible areas.
In August 2017, Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 and practically stalled over southern Texas, dropping record-breaking rain in many areas and causing widespread flooding.
At 11 p.m. Friday, wind gusts in Raleigh could be recorded at 37 miles per hour.
Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachians, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.
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Carla Mahaffee said she would be riding out the storm with friends, as they do during every hurricane. It could stall just off the coast and then drift south along the SC coast and possibly make a landfall as a weaker system if it doesn't make it clearly over the coast of North Carolina.
"The larger and slower the storm is, the greater the threat and impact, and we have that here", NHC Director Ken Graham said Thursday. "I wish I had more time to sort through and grab more of the sentimental items". In addition to the hurricane's obvious risks, the National Weather Service says, "A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday". He's staying put - for now.
"I never got the sense that I needed to leave". "My home is all my wife and I have, materially speaking, a lifetime of stuff". All seven of North Carolina's ferry routes were shut down. From there, they headed to her father's home in Ohio.
"It's all going to be predicated on where the damage is at, in terms of how and where we deploy our resources", said Penn.
"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.
Usually when a storm approaches the coast, forecasters can tell with ever-increasing accuracy who will get walloped.
"They try to stay open as long as they can", Kourounis said.
Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms. "Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials".
The storm will slow down because of pushback from a trough - an extended area of low atmospheric pressure - now over Texas, Stacy Stewart, an NHC senior hurricane specialist, said in the update.