'Catastrophic' Florence buffets USA east coast

And that's just the prelude to untold days of misery.

Storm surges are caused when huge volumes of water are pushed by hurricane-force winds. "We will have catastrophic effects".

It was set to inundate nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, State Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, while National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted up to eight months of rain in two or three days. "Tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded, and many more by rising rivers and creeks".

As of 4 a.m., maximum sustained winds were at 90 miles per hour.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably a 7" in terms of worry, she said.

Hurricane Florence is expected to hover over the Carolinas through Saturday night, dumping an insane amount of rain and wind on the area.

"I mean this takes a long time to move through the Carolinas".

"It's cumulative damage", Myers said.

"Because of the slow movement of the storm, the rain is going to have plenty of time keep piling up", said Feltgen. So will the trees.

Some areas could receive as much as 40 inches (one meter) of rain, forecasters said.

Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland. As of 8 a.m., the hurricane is predicted to make landfall along the coast of the Carolinas tomorrow (Sept. 14), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center. The Category 1 storm has maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour and is moving slowly, at 6 miles per hour.

Almost 2 million coastal residents are now under mandatory evacuation orders, although it remains unclear how many have actually done so.

"You put your life at risk by staying", Cooper said.

Tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday.

On Thursday, schools and businesses were closed as far south as Georgia, airlines canceled about 1,200 flights and counting, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty.

"Even the rescuers can not stay there", he said.

Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were already inundated with water. They also instituted a 24-hour curfew.

"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham told The Associated Press.

There will be hurricane-force winds up to 80 miles from the centre of the storm, meteorologists say.

But, knowing the intensity of Florence's impact on Myrtle Beach, "My friends are worrying me right now", Combs said.

The massive storm is larger than North Carolina and South Carolina - combined, according to South Carolina Emergency Management. If you didn't know all those things, the picture of Florence taken from space would still fill you with foreboding.

"Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye", German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted.

'Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you'.

Parts of the Mid-Atlantic states can also expect heavy rains from what is left of Florence well into next week. Hurricane Helene is veering toward Europe. And newly formed Subtropical Storm Joyce is not expected to threaten land soon.