Everyone "from SC into the Mid-Atlantic region should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and follow any advice given by local officials", the hurricane center urged ahead of Florence's expected landfall on Thursday or Friday.
Flash flooding is expected Thursday into Saturday, while river flooding from heavy rainfall could persist for several days to weeks after the storm. Miles of traffic slowed to a crawl along the main highway along North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands. The storm's most likely landfall will be between northern SC and North Carolina's Outer Banks on Thursday.
It is now moving west-northwest at about 16 miles per hour and that speed is expected to increase in the next few days, says the center.
The tropical storm-force winds extend 280 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, which is far enough to reach from Boston to Philadelphia. That would actually be Florence's storm surge, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.
"A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations hard or risky", the warning states.
"Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 20 inches with isolated maximum to 30 inches near Florence's track over portions of North Carolina, Virginia, and northern SC through Saturday", says the National Hurricane Center.
Florence is also expected to bring heavy flooding across the region.
These alerts are usually issued about 48 hours before storms are set to touch down, when the arrival of tropical force winds would make any last-minute preparation hard.
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"All the rainfall we're going to have, plus you talk about the wind - that means a lot of trees coming down, it's a lot of power outages, a lot of impacts with this system", Graham said.
Rain measured in feet is "looking likely", he said.
As Hurricane Florence continues to build strength and head toward the East Coast, airlines around the United States have started waiving change fees for travelers scheduled to fly in or out of potentially impacted cities.
Hurricane Florence, a powerful Category 3 storm, is closing in on the Southeast, bringing threatening winds, a high storm surge and tons of rain. No. 14 West Virginia's game at North Carolina State and No. 18 UCF's game at North Carolina are the others. "We expect Florence to weigh on P&C (re) insurance stocks as it moves closer to mainland U.S". "Storm surge and hurricane watches could be issued for portions of these areas by Tuesday morning", the NHC said, adding that at 11:00 a.m.
Even the hurricane's intensity can affect the direction it takes, as "the atmosphere has different winds at different heights, so the winds at the upper levels may be different than they are at the lower levels", Bell said.
"First and foremost, our thoughts are with everyone who may be affected by this storm", UCF Vice President and Director of Athletics Danny White said.
According to AccuWeather there is a potential scenario where Florence will stall or significantly reduce its speed which could prolong the effects of damaging winds, storm surge flooding and beach erosion. Last season, UCF was unable to play Georgia Tech after Hurricane Irma hit Florida.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said the emergency was "effective immediately" and "ensures that we will have the resources we need to prepare". "If we try to leave, we'll just get stuck in the rain", she said.