Hurricane Florence, a powerful Category 3 storm, could stall upon reaching the Carolina coast and make a slight shift south toward SC once it makes landfall, becoming "a major flooding event", according to Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean.
In North Carolina, the first mandatory evacuation order was issued at noon, and Gov. Roy Cooper expects more later Monday and Tuesday.
"This is a serious storm and it's going to effect the entire state", Northam told a news conference.
My people just informed me that this is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years.
If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other risky conditions.
A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and this area of the ocean is seeing temperatures peak near 85 degrees (30 Celsius), hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote.
The element will lead to a "life-threatening storm surges, exceptionally strong heavy rains and destructive winds", they say.
As of Tuesday, Florence was driving sustained winds up to 140 miles per hour. The storm is expected to make landfall along the North Carolina coast, possibly as a Category 4 storm, overnight Thursday into Friday.
Two other storms are spinning in the Atlantic.
The frequency and intensity of rip currents will increase as Florence strengthens and especially in areas in the direct line of sight of the hurricane, which is along the Carolina, Virginia and Delmarva coasts.
Classified as a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength, Florence was the most severe storm to threaten the U.S. mainland this year and the first of its magnitude to target the Carolinas since 1989, when Hurricane Hugo barreled over Charleston, South Carolina.
Beyond the damage from wind and high surf, Hurricane Florence is predicted to slow over the Carolinas where it may dump up to 30 inches of rain over much of North and SC.
Governors in the Carolinas and Virginia already had declared emergencies, and some sought federal aid as well. The Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane of 1933 is the only major storm that has tracked along Florence's path and ended up in the Carolinas, according to AccuWeather.
The storm is poised to affect millions this week in the southeastern U.S. Here's what should you know about the hurricane's path.
Virginia's emergency operations chief, Jeffrey Stern, told reporters that residents should brace for "something that no one in Virginia has experienced in their lifetimes".
State offices will be closed in 26 counties, including Horry and Georgetown counties, as well as schools on Tuesday until further notice. She grew up on the shore, and says this will be only the second time she's evacuated.
Florence could hit the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since Hazel packed 130 miles per hour (209 kph) winds in 1954.
"We will do what's best for Virginia Tech moving forward as it relates to East Carolina and to the game", Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said in a Tuesday statement.
Mike Herring with Frank's Ice Company unloads another pallet of ice as people buy supplies at The Home Depot on Monday in Wilmington, N.C.