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. That is what happened a year ago with Hurricane Harvey, which brought more than 150 centimeters of rain to the Houston, Texas area.
Most models showed the storm hovering over the central Carolinas through the weekend, with the eye moving into central SC by 8 a.m. Sunday. "We know the storm surge is going to be significant".
"North Carolina, my message is clear", a grim Gov. Roy Cooper said at a briefing today.
Forecasts project the center of Florence to make landfall around the South and North Carolina border on Friday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.
Five to 10 inches of rain are possible in western and northern North Carolina and in SC, in which some areas could get 20 inches, according to the WPC. "It's going to be really, really bad along the coast", Trump said.
"Life-threatening freshwater flooding is likely from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event, which may extend inland over the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic for hundreds of miles as Florence is expected to slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland", the NHC warned.
US President Donald Trump has authorised emergency measures to free up federal funds to help those responding to the storm.
"Been through it!" Belli said, referring to Hurricane Hugo, which caused widespread damage in SC in 1989.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Monday ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents. "It's a big one", he said.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring its devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state.
And it led to mixed signals from officials in SC, whose governor had canceled mandatory evacuation for several coastal counties.
"And that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew", the organization said in a statement that was circulated on Twitter. This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and SC but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend.