Experts warn that Florence could top Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in terms of property damage, with potential reconstruction of costs of $170 billion.
Tropical expert Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground lays out a potentially catastrophic storm surge scenario for Florence and the Carolinas pointing out the devastating nature of the storm surges produced by two of the three CAT 4 strength hurricanes which have hit the coastline north of Georgia at high tide since 1851: Hurricane Hazel on October 15, 1954 and Hurricane Hugo on September 22, 1989.
"This storm is a monster", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a Tuesday news conference about the most powerful storm to approach the Carolinas in almost three decades. If you are in these areas, or have ties there, take the warning and evacuation orders seriously.
"It's an extremely risky, life-threatening, historic hurricane. the forecast shows Florence stalling over North Carolina, bringing days and days of rain".
Forecasters say Olivia - with current wind speeds of 65 miles per hour - will make landfall on Wednesday morning.
Florence had maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour (165 km/h), making it a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 5 a.m. EST. "Hurricane-force winds, storm surge inundation, again, are all possible in the watch area".
Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that he had issued a first-of-its-kind state evacuation to help prompt residents of the barrier islands, including the Outer Banks, to leave. The remnants of Florence and the rain will likely not be completed kicked out until sometime early next week. "It's more like a (Hurricane) Harvey situation, where it'll just slowly wind down".
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As of early Monday, the storm was getting stronger, with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour. "When weather forecasters tell us 'life-threatening, ' we know that it is serious". Sharp added that some areas could see flooding where he hasn't flooded before. Seven-day rainfall totals are forecast to reach 25 to 50 centimetres over much of North Carolina and Virginia, and even 75 centimetres in some places.
Jay Barnes, who has written several books on hurricanes, including "North Carolina's Hurricane History", said Florence has a lot of similarities to Hurricanes Hazel, Fran and Floyd. Some models are predicting more than 9 feet of water to pile up on the western end of those waterways.
Large swells along parts of the US East Coast will spawn unsafe surf and rip currents.
There is no out to sea solution. And THAT storm was nowhere near as strong as what's about to hit the Carolina coastline.
Residents can all the state's emergency hotline at 1-866-246-0133 if they have questions about the ongoing preparations for Hurricane Florence.