Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and risky rainfall event Friday-Sunday".
"Category 4 means damaging winds, and a storm surge- which is this mound of ocean water rushing in- a storm surge over ten feet", said hurricane expert Thomas Galarneau of The University of Arizona. It is likely to become a Category 5 before landfall.
Forecasters are anxious about the surge from Hurricane Florence, which is expected to be a major storm when it pounds the Carolinas on Thursday and Friday.
Tecklenburg said his flood-prone city is preparing for "copious rain" by clearing out the city's drainage system and getting boats and portable pumps ready. The storm was about 235 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and was moving at about 17 mph on Thursday.
The massive storm is threatening the East Coast of the U.S. with an expected landfall early Friday.
Communities in Florence's path could lose electricity for weeks due to downed power lines and flooded equipment, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long said. Life-threatening storm surges of up to a staggering 13 feet in some places were also forecast.
Graphic shows the storm track of Hurricane Florence. "Now it might be time for the exam", he said.
"We are sparing no expense".
Coastal residents along the Carolinas encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared its coast with winds and drenching rain that could last for days.
In a video message on Twitter, President Trump added: "Hurricane Florence is fast approaching, it's going to be here in the next 48 hours and they say it is about as big as they have seen coming to this country and certainly to the east coast as they have ever said".
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