ATLANTA — As Hurricane Florence continues to approach the Carolinas, a Hurricane and Storm Surge Warning has been issued for parts of the North and South Carolina coastlines.
The warnings have been issued for the coastline from the South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina.
The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center said Florence has sustained winds of 140 mph, with gusts upwards of 165 mph. The eye of the storm is about 350 miles south-southwest of Bermuda.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz said the effects of Florence could have started to be felt as early as Tuesday evening as 10- to 15-foot swells started to reach the coast.
Severe Weather Team 2's five meteorologists are working around the clock, tracking this massive storm. Stay with us as we give you LIVE coverage of the storm's impact along the coast and here in the metro, throughout the day and night on Channel 2 Action News and WSBTV.com
“As Florence approaches, we’re going to have significant rip current threats. We’re talking about large swells and beach erosion up and down the Mid-Atlantic coast, the Southeast coast, the Georgia coast and into the Florida peninsula,” Nitz said.
The storm is expected to make landfall Friday.
"What we're dealing with is a perfect steam engine," said Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns. "This is going to maintain intensification."
Burns said the current models show the storm slowing to a Category 3 right before it makes landfall, with winds of about 110 mph.
Once the storm makes landfall, it is expected to dump feet of rain across the area. The current track then shows the storm moving west inland, driving into western North Carolina as a tropical depression by Saturday afternoon.
“The rainfall potential is staggering,” Burns said. “It’s going to be moving into the coastal areas between Myrtle Beach and Cape Hatteras, with the potential of 20-plus inches of rain.”
Burns said that, with the storm pushing water toward land, there will be no way for all that water to run off into the ocean.
“There’s no place for that water to go, so there’s going to be some catastrophic flooding,” Burns said.
South Carolina's governor said Tuesday, that he expects this hurricane to be a historic event.
"This hurricane is big and strong and it’s bigger than Hurricane Hugo, which we had back in 1989," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster told ABC News on Tuesday.
Channel 2's Nicole Carr traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Tuesday, where she found most people had heeded the governor's warning and left.
What is usually a bustling area, Carr said it was quiet except for the buzzing of drills as people boarded up their homes and businesses.
“It almost feeling like a ghost town now,” an evacuee who only identified himself as Aaron, told Carr.
Aaron said he was heading to Atlanta to ride out the storm.
"We're going to evacuate to Georgia. We heard it's not going to hit Georgia, so actually we're going towards Atlanta."
Amir Solice said he wasn’t taking any chances by sticking around.
“Last year was a Category 1, 2? And this one is a going to be a 4, so I guess it's going to be bad,” Solis said.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina late Tuesday night, where the storm is expected to hit hardest.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long warned that power could be knocked out for weeks.
"This has an opportunity of being a very devastating storm," Long said Tuesday. "The power will be off for weeks. You're going to be displaced from your home in coastal areas. There will be flooding in the inland areas as well."
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