Heavy rains and strong winds on the outer rings of Hurricane Florence began to hit the Outer Banks region of North Carolina on Thursday, with the storm expected to slowly reach the Carolinas by the end of the day.
Beside inundating the coast with wind-driven storm, Florence could dump 20 to 30 inches (51-76 cm) of rain, with up to 40 inches in parts of North Carolina, the National Hurricane Center predicts.
Accuweather reported that its meteorologists "believe that the hurricane will stall and meander near the Carolina coast from Thursday night to Saturday".
"Just because the wind speeds came down, the intensity of this storm came down to a Category 2, please do not let your guard down", said FEMA Administrator Brock Long.More news: Trump rejects Puerto Rico storm death toll
"We're still going to have a Category 4 storm surge".
Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights.
More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.
"But forecasts for life-threatening storm surge and rain-induced flooding have not changed!"
As the storm continues to track toward western North Carolina and upstate SC, heavy rains in the mountains could trigger mudslides due to the region's topography, Cline added.More news: White House Buckles in For Hurricane Florence
On Wednesday, McMaster, along with the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, Department of Natural resources and others stressed the potential dangers that Hurricane Florence could bring as it makes its way to the Carolinas, drawing similarities to Hurricane Hugo.
Hurricane Florence has weakened to a Category 2 storm as it approaches landfall in the U.S. - but it is very slow moving and could linger the coastline bringing catastrophic flooding and heavy losses to insurers. "Several million will probably lose power".
Recent tracking maps show Florence stalking near the coast line, increasing the chances of flooding across four states.
McMaster also said there may be water coming from rivers from North and SC, which could lead to flooding. "Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the centre of the storm". Meacham says the state can house more than 35,000 people if needed. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords while another man died when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.
"This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective", University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said. "I'm not leaving him here".More news: Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino won't blame Michel Vorm for Liverpool opener
"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", said Fisher, 74. "We're ready and God will watch over us".