"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.
Florence is now at a Category 4 level, the second highest classification on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with winds now at 130 miles per hour (209 kilometers per hour).
"I'm scared we'll get 30 inches or more of rain", said Carol Trojniar, 69, a longtime Wilmington resident and retired real estate agent who has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane.
Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 miles per hour (220 kph) as it moved west-northwest at 13 miles per hour (20 kph).
As of Tuesday morning, hurricane force winds were extending up to 40 miles from the storm's center and "tropical storm force winds" were showing up as far away as 150 miles, said the National Weather Service.
At the time, the imposing storm was 390 miles south of Bermuda, moving west-northwest at 16 mph.
As of Tuesday morning, Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall as a risky category 3 storm Friday morning.
Hurricane Florence will approach the coast of North Carolina and SC on Thursday or Friday.
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Residents prepared by boarding up their homes and stocking up on food, water and other essentials, stripping grocery store shelves of merchandise. "People are doing a pretty good job now". Florence is projected to make landfall Thursday afternoon or evening near the Carolina border.
"We are sparing no expense".
"It's not just the coast", Mr Graham said. Officials said that motorists can expect a "brief, but possibly dramatic" spike in prices.
He said Congress would be generous with disaster relief funding.
In its own release, Virginia Tech officials had planned to wait until Wednesday to determine the status of the game based on updated storm projections.
Further east, forecasters are watching Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac in the Atlantic, and a patch of showers in the western Caribbean, which has a 30 percent chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 2 days.
If it remains at Category 4, Florence would be one the strongest hurricanes to make landfall in the continental USA this far north.
"This storm will produce a tremendous amount of rainfall over a broad area", said Porter, warning some projections are up to 32 inches by the end of the weekend.
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"We face three critical threats from Florence: ocean surge along our coast, strong winds, and inland flooding from heavy rain", Governor Cooper said.
Last year, there were 17 named storms. After that point, it would be hard for people in the storm's path to either finish preparations or flee affected areas. But the storm is expected to strengthen again over the next day or so.
If the hurricane makes landfall, this so-called brick wall will likely play the villain again; the brick wall is expected to weaken, meaning it won't help steer Florence out to sea.
- Storm surge is also a major concern, potentially reaching 13 feet in parts of North Carolina.
"Prolonged and exceptionally heavy" rains will also inundate parts of the coast and inland areas, the National Hurricane Center said.
As of Tuesday, storm surge and hurricane warnings have been issued along the southeast US coast from parts of Florida to Cape Cod, MA.
North Carolina has the highest property and casualty insured premiums of the three states at $16 billion, followed by Virginia at $13.6 billion, and SC at $9.5 billion, according to Citi.
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