With reports of skyscraper-likes waves out at sea, the potential for historic coastal surges and rainfalls, and severe threats to vulnerable nuclear plants and other industrial waste sites-a behemoth Hurricane Florence is fast-approaching the southeastern USA coast on Wednesday as weather experts and emergency management officials intensifying their warnings about the dangers the storm poses.
The hurricane was about 470 miles (755 km) east-southeast of Myrtle beach SC, with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (205 km/h), the Miami, Florida-based weather forecaster said.
Florence crashed into the Carolina coast on Friday, felling trees, dumping almost three feet of rain on some spots and leading to the death of four people before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc.
The Post and Courier: "Charleston area should prepare for at least some flooding from Hurricane Florence" - "While predictions show Hurricane Florence heading for North Carolina, the amount of rainfall it could send Charleston's way carries a potential for flooding".
Swell from Florence continues into Friday.
As of 11 p.m., the storm was centered 280 miles (455 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).
More than 1.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate along 300 miles of coastline. The center said the waves were measured by satellite.
The storm's first casualties included a mother and her baby, who died when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.
Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, which decimated parts of the Gulf states and Texas in 2005 and 2017 respectively, cost more than $125 billion.
Henry McMaster lifted the mandatory evacuation order for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties Tuesday morning.
On Wednesday, McMaster said that emergency lane reversals - using all lanes of I-26 out of Charleston and Highway 501 near Myrtle Beach for westbound traffic - will cease on Thursday, two days after the measure was instituted.
The Department of Information Technology, headed by North Carolina CIO Eric Boyette, also has a major presence at the state's emergency operations center, located at the North Carolina National Guard's headquarters in Raleigh.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents to remain alert despite changing forecasts.
Abigail Darlington, covers the city of Charleston for the South Carolina Post and Courier.
The NHC warned that the storm surge could lead to "catastrophic" flash flooding far inland.
In Charleston, the city government said that after giving out 53,000 sandbags, "there is no longer any sand available at any city of Charleston location". Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles.
Florence is now heading for ocean water that has surface temperatures of about 85 degrees, meaning it will most likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.
Large surf at Atlantic Beach, NC as Hurricane Florence nears.
The hurricane centre's best guess was that Florence's eye would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina border.
Hurricane Florence has inundated USA coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and forecasters say conditions will only worsen as the hulking storm slogs inland.
Parts of North and SC were forecast to get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 metre). Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees. "We are ready for the big one that is coming!" This will allow Florence to continually batter the same areas for hours on end and allow storm surge to inundate the coast through multiple high tide cycles. "It goes well inland".
At a separate FEMA press conference, the agency's Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery Jeff Byard said the storm's shift towards the south was not good news for people of the region.
"Bad things can happen when you're talking about a storm this size", Trump said Wednesday morning.