Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks, as the hulking storm closed in with 100 miles per hour (155 kph) winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend.
It was forecast to make landfall mid-day Friday near Cape Fear, North Carolina, bringing up to 40 inches (1 meter) of rain, and storm surges as high as 13 feet (4 meters), the NHC said.
America's National Weather Service has warned that the storm is likely to bring, "life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding" when it hits land on Thursday or Friday.
The huge storm weakened to a Category 2 hurricane overnight, but forecasters warned that it still packed a risky punch - 110 mile-an-hour (175 kph) winds and torrential rains.
The hurricane's surge could cover large swathes of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft (3.3m) of seawater. "Today the threat becomes a reality".
Hurricane Florence will be one of the biggest storms to make landfall along the United States eastern seaboard in decades. Vanotteren and his friend Bailey Gaddis said the waves have gotten bigger and better every evening as the storm approaches. The forecast track has the storm moving slowly along the coast throughout Friday and into Saturday.
The station reached 70 million viewers previous year and averaged more than a million viewers during the week Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Florida.
He said there are about 7,000 USA military forces now in place and ready to respond to the storm - along with ships, helicopters and high-wheeled vehicles.
More than 1,200 US airline flights scheduled for Thursday and Friday have been canceled, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware.
Around midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. By early afternoon, utilities reported about 12,000 homes and businesses had lost power.
In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Trump said the government "got A Pluses" for storm recovery in Texas and Florida and "did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico". "Because it's Mother Nature". That's enough water to fill the Empire State Building almost 40,000 times.
More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.
Florence, a storm expected to significantly impact the U.S. Along the coast, fewer homes have flood insurance than five years ago.
Bertha Bradley said she has never favored evacuating ahead of hurricanes. Those winds can heard howling at the Frying Pan, a decommissioned lighthouse 55km off the North Carolina coast.
Though the Waffle House may be open now, it's unlikely that will be the case in the days to come.
Paige Sheehan, a spokesperson for local utility Duke Energy, told us on Wednesday that the company had 20,000 workers at the ready to restore power, but that it was warning customers they could be without power for weeks.
On Thursday evening, Florence's forward movement was just 5mph.
Florence is a large storm packing hurricane-force winds that extend about 130 km outward from its centre; tropical storm-force winds extend even further, up to 315 km away.
Scientists said it is too soon to say what role, if any, global warming played in the storm.
The European computer model has Florence veering before landfall and hovering for a couple days off the coast. Overall, the storm is 400 miles wide.
Near the beach in Wilmington, a Waffle House restaurant, part of a chain with a reputation for staying open during disasters, had no plans to close, even if power is lost. While all simulations show the storm turning back to the north Sunday or Monday (local time), exactly where that turns occurs is a big wild card.