The zone where these intense winds occur will be narrow and they will last just a few hours, but the effects will probably be severe, similar to a tornado.
Town Manager Mike Cramer said law enforcement officers will try to assess how many people are still on the island immediately south of Wilmington.
In the tiny community of Sea Breeze near Wilmington, Roslyn Fleming, 56, made a video of the inlet where her granddaughter was baptized because "I just don't think a lot of this is going to be here" later. Storm surge of 13 feet on top of a high tide at 7 feet could overwhelm Carolina Beach.
"This is not going to be a glancing blow", Byard said, warning of power outages, road closures, infrastructure damage and potential loss of life. "Flooding is nearly guaranteed".
Forecasters also say the storm surge - or wall of water - that the hurricane's winds and forward movement push on shore, could cause normally dry areas to be flooded by up to 4 meters of water moving inland.
Other bars in North Carolina stayed open on Wednesday night (amid warnings to evacuate) and advertised local beer, pizza and vodka, the Daily Mail reported. The forecast was complicated because the storm was still small, allowing it to quickly change. "Once these winds start blowing at that tropical storm rate, it will be virtually impossible for the rescuers to get in to rescue you". According to forecasters, the center of Florence is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday. When and where it will make landfall is unclear. By late Wednesday, the authorities in North Carolina reported almost 7,000 evacuees staying in 71 emergency shelters throughout the state. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and the rain and storm surge will make Florence extremely unsafe.
As Florence closed in, some residents weighed whether to ride it out.
"It's just extremely busy and it's even busier than previous year and all at once", Blake said. If the storm makes landfall as a Category 2, these winds will be damaging, sustained at up to 160km/h or so with higher gusts. He asked citizens in danger zones to heed warnings because "your time is running out".
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Ferry service from North Carolina's Bald Head Island already has stopped. She packed up what she could and took a ferry.
There was also concern over crops.
The US Coast Guard said it closed the ports of Wilmington and Moorehead City in North Carolina and restricted port operations in Charleston, South Carolina.
"They'll be looking very closely at major transmission lines that have tens of thousands of customers associated with them", Penn said.
The contraflow will end Thursday at noon on 501 and at 6 p.m. on I-26.
"You put your life at risk by staying", Cooper said. The outer rain bands from Hurricane Florence have begun to come ashore in North Carolina. It urged residents to heed evacuation orders.
Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
If you're in the path of this storm, get out of it. Pack your stuff into the attic and your vehicle, grab the preferred kids, pets, and spouse, and head inland. Some regions are expected to receive more than 20 inches of rain from the hurricane and its giant knot of storm clouds.