Since reliable record-keeping began more than 150 years ago, North Carolina has only been hit by one Category 4 hurricane: Hazel, with 130 miles per hour winds in 1954.
AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rossi said the ground in North and SC and Virginia is already saturated from recent rains.
"Somebody is going to suffer devastating damage if this storms continues as it is now forecast", Dan Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia, told The State newspaper.
The storm was producing large swells expected to reach from the northern Caribbean to the southern coasts of Canada's Maritime provinces. It could be cooler Sunday, if the storm remnants move into our area. Those on the coast and inland from SC into the mid-Atlantic region should be on alert and have a hurricane plan in place, according to the agency.
Florence has rapidly strengthened into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane.
"There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence", the hurricane center has been saying for days. Along the coastline devastating storm surge will be possible in addition to the high end category 3 winds.
"While this is subject to change, it does indicate there is potential for strong winds, flooding rains and power outages late this week", said Moss".
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Swells generated by Florence could cause risky rip currents and coastal flooding Saturday in areas including coastal DE and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.
The storm is forecast to move generally in a westward direction over the coming days, with an increase in forward speed during the early part of the week.
The NHC predicts it could become a major hurricane by Monday and remain that way through Thursday.
The Meteorological Service of Jamaica said at 4:00 am Sunday, Tropical Storm Isaac was centred about 2,475 kilometers east of the Windward Islands.
Florence is moving toward the west near 9 km/h, and this general motion is expected to continue today.
"Since we are near the peak of hurricane season, this is a good time for everyone who lives in a hurricane-prone area to ensure they have their hurricane plan in place", forecaster David Zelinsky said. By Monday, the storm should turn west-northwest and accelerate towards the coast. It is expected to accelerate during the next 36 hours and head into the eastern Caribbean Sea by Thursday. Weakening is forecast to begin by the middle of the week.
Florence rapidly intensified into a fearsome category 3 hurricane Monday and could strike a direct and unsafe blow to the Carolinas later this week, possibly as a category 4, forecasters said.
Florence is still a tropical storm, but is expected to become a hurricane by Sunday, and a major hurricane again on Monday.
It was centered about 1,230 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west at 13 mph.