He said: "We here in North Carolina are bracing for a hard hit".
Sand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast.
Authorities warned of life-threatening coastal storm surges and the potential for Florence to unleash prolonged torrential rains and widespread flooding, especially if it lingers inland for several days.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered a mandatory evacuation of most of the state's coast beginning at noon on Tuesday.
A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and Florence will be moving over waters where temperatures are peaking near 30C, hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote.
Florence is expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday (Sept. 13 or 14), likely as a Category 3 hurricane, meaning it will have winds blowing at a minimum of 111 miles per hour (178 km/h), Samson said.
As Hurricane Florence continues barreling toward the Carolinas, NASA has posted a remarkable video of the storm with winds approaching 130 miles per hour. "The threat will be inland, so I'm afraid, based on my experience at FEMA, that the public probably not as prepared as everybody would like", said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We're seeing that in every ocean basin except the northern Indian Ocean", says Kossin, possibly because climate change is causing the wind currents that hurricanes ride to slow down.
Florence could be the most powerful storm to hit the Carolinas since Hurricane Hazel in 1954, which came ashore at the border with North and SC, killing 19 people in North Carolina and causing catastrophic damage along the coast.
Should Florence make landfall as a Category 4, it would be the first Category 4 hurricane since Hazel in 1954 to hit North Carolina.
By 5 a.m. Tuesday, Florence was centered about 975 miles (1,570 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at 15 mph (24 kph). "We certainly understand the need for safety, of course, we just felt that tomorrow, making the decision then, would've been more responsible and accurate".
The video, taken with a high-definition camera outside the International Space Station, shows a "stark and sobering view" of the Category 4 storm as it moves in a west-northwesterly direction across the Atlantic.
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