Sharp doesn't like to compare hurricanes because each one is different, but he did note that Florence is a stronger storm than Matthew, which hit the state in 2016.
A satellite image shows Hurricane Florence looming in the Atlantic Ocean as the sun rises over the U.S. Florence is expected to bring tropical storm conditions to North Carolina and SC on Thursday and hurricane conditions on Friday.
Geography, tide-cycle and wind direction are all factors in how severe storm surge could be, Miller said.
"North Carolina, my message is clear", a grim Gov. Roy Cooper said at a briefing today.
WCNC-TV meteorologist Brad Panovich told WFAE Morning Edition host Marshall Terry that the shift of Florence means more rain for the Charlotte area.
North and SC and Virginia declared emergencies earlier in the week.
Alamance County residents should brace for at least 2 to 4 inches and as much as 10 inches of rain over the weekend, the National Weather Service said Wednesday, Sept. 12.
"I can't emphasise enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding". This system, when it gets to the coast, is only going to be moving about three miles per hour.
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A hurricane warning - meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours - is in effect for a long stretch of the coast, from the Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., which is part of the Outer Banks. "You're going to be displaced from your home in coastal areas".
North Carolina resident Roberto Guzman carries belongings from his mobile home as he leaves Wilmington a day before the storm is due to strike.
US President Donald Trump said the "storm looks very bad" and urged people to take precautions.
And in the 29 years since Hurricane Hugo struck, the population of the coastal Carolinas has skyrocketed.
"If you reside in the affected areas, you should exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports and follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders", the department said in a statement that also advised travellers to download the government's free Travel Smart app to get updated travel advice.
"It can save your life", he said.
Hurricane Florence is now expected to head more directly west after making landfall, crossing through SC.
Both of the Carolinas and Virginia ordered mandatory evacuations for some of their residents starting at noon Tuesday and over a million people are expected to flee.
"It's likely we'll get significant flooding and high winds", he said. The Virginia National Guard is planning to initially bring up to 1,500 soldiers and airmen to offer help in the state's response operations.