As of 11 a.m., the Category 4 storm was centered 485 miles (785 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, moving at 15 mph (24 kph) with the potential for 1 to 3 feet of rain in places - enough to touch off catastrophic flooding and an environmental disaster, too, if the water inundates the region's many industrial waste sites and hog manure ponds. The Triad has around a 50% chance of having sustained Tropical Storm force winds.
The US east coast is bracing for more than 40 inches of rain as Hurricane Florence barrels nearer to land.
While some of the computer forecasting models conflicted, the latest projections more or less showed the storm shifting southward and westward in a way that suddenly put more of SC in danger and imperiled Georgia, too. After Florence's rain starts to fall this week, he said, the rainfall could continue through Monday.
Some areas are expected to see between 20 and 30 inches of rain through early next week in the area shaded in purple in the second image above. Some of these reactors - including Duke Energy's Brunswick and Harris nuclear plants in North Carolina and Dominion Energy's Surry plant in Virginia - may be directly in the hurricane's path, Reuters reported.
Duke Energy, the nation's No. 2 power company, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for week. Gradual weakening is forecast over the next couple of days, and Helene is expected to become a tropical storm on Thursday.
Hurricane Florence can be tracked via the National Hurricane Center (NHC) which gives regular updates on the path of Florence every three hours. REUTERS/Randall HillDennis Kernodle talks on the phone during storm preparations of his oceanfront home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018. In South Carolina, close to the Georgia line, Beaufort County emergency chief Neil Baxley told residents they need to prepare again for the worst just in case.
"Rather than a very narrow and intense band of winds, the winds are slightly weaker - but [they] cover a much larger area", NHC senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said on Wednesday.
Based on the current forecast track, here is what to expect...
Meteorologists are warning of potentially catastrophic flooding in the area, with isolated amounts of up to 40 inches of rain expected in parts of SC.
To back up that point, Graham cited a sobering statistic: "50 percent of the fatalities in these tropical systems is the storm surge - and that's not just along the coast".
"This is not going to be a tropical storm ... this is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", Jeff Byard, the associate administrator for FEMA's Office of Response and Recovery, said on Wednesday.
"But despite that, bad things can happen when you are talking about a storm this size", he added.