Closing in with terrifying winds of 130 miles per hour (215 kph) and potentially catastrophic rain and storm surge, Florence is expected to blow ashore Saturday morning along the North Carolina-South Carolina line, the National Hurricane Center said. The slow-moving storm, with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, is expected.
In a videotaped message from the White House, President Donald Trump said the government is fully prepared for Florence but urged people to "get out of its way".
Rick Leuttich directs the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Science Morehead City, and is one of the principal developers of the ADCIRC coastal circulation and storm surge model.
In Miami-Dade County, Florida, officials left almost 4,500 prisoners inside facilities during Hurricane Irma in 2017, even though multiple prison facilities in that county were demolished by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
That amount of storm surge would put Florence on par with Hurricane Fran.
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Updated forecasts from the NHC show the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, packed with days of torrential rain that could trigger huge inland flooding from SC to Virginia.
More than 1.5 million people living on the US East Coast have been ordered to leave their homes as Hurricane Florence heads towards them.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the eye of the hurricane will likely not blow ashore until Friday afternoon local time, after which it will then push westward and bring with it the potential for catastrophic inland flooding.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said: "Florence is still forecast to be an extremely risky major hurricane when it nears the USA coast late Thursday and Friday".
More than one million people have been told to evacuate the Carolina and Virginia coastlines, while residents were desperately pulling shutters down over schools and factories. That leaves the "spinning wheel" at the hurricane's core stranded, "and it'll just sit there until the weather pattern changes", he said. Most other beachgoers were long gone.
Grace Beasley said: 'I'm now in the Philippines and the country is making huge preparations for typhoon Mangkhut, which has already caused devastation to Guam'. "You feel like you should have already left".