Enough rain could fall to break North Carolina's record for a tropical storm - 24 inches - set near Wilmington during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations at the Weather Service's national prediction center.
Duke Energy officials say Florence will knock out power to an estimated 1 million to 3 million customers in North and SC.
Panovich: Right now it looks like landfall is going to occur sometime early Friday morning between, I would say, 4 a.m. and probably about 8 a.m., but it might actually never make it all the way in.
Parts of North Carolina are expected to get 13 centimetres of rain in the coming days.
Potential threats from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, and landslides. The game, like many others this weekend, was canceled due to the impending impact of Hurricane Florence.
Rain and strong winds are the biggest threats from Florence, Garner said.
And the storm surge, which could be as much as 12 feet in some areas, will be on top of sea level rise from climate change.
Tens of thousands of homes and businesses could be flooded in North Carolina alone, Governor Cooper warned. Helene will likely wear itself out before hitting land, the NHC said in its latest forecast, and Isaac, which has been downgraded from a hurricane, is on its way to the Caribbean, officials said. Fourteen squads of State Highway Patrol troopers also are ready to deploy to hard-hit areas after Florence passes to assist with recovery efforts, patrol commander Col. Glenn McNeill said.
Almost 1000 prisoners in SC will not be moved from their cells, despite a mandatory evacuation order in the area.
"As soon as we get any type of notice", he said, "we start contacting families".
Eventually, Florence will veer north into the Appalachian Mountains, bringing soaking rains to Virginia and western North Carolina, before sputtering out late next week near DE and Maryland, the FWS reported.
Schools in 26 of the state's 46 counties were closed from Tuesday. Livestock, including the hogs that make up the state's massive pork industry, have been moved to higher ground and some animals have "gone into the market to lessen the probability of them being in harm's way", said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. Monitor WRAL's closings page for updates.