More than 1 million residents have been ordered to evacuate from the coastline of the three states, while university campuses, schools and factories were being shuttered.
Typhoon Mangkhut is estimated to have caused $250 million worth of damage to the Phillipines with rice and corn crops bearing the brunt of the storm. A Category 5 storm has 157 miles per hour winds.
The alerts also mean risky storm surges are likely along the coast and heavy, sustained rains could cause life-threatening flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned. People living well inland should prepare to lose power and endure flooding and other hazards, he warned.
At 2 p.m., the storm was centered 845 miles (1,360 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph).
The National Hurricane Center has already declared storm surge and hurricane warnings for areas in the Carolinas and Virginia, which means life-threatening conditions are about 36 hours out.
A hurricane hunter plane has flown through the eye of the storm to gather data on its strength.
In the Pacific, Hurricane Olivia triggered warnings for multiple Hawaiian islands as it blew west toward an arrival over the state as soon as late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
To understand why rapid intensification matters, consider the globe's current population of tropical cyclones (which are variously termed hurricanes, typhoons and just cyclones, depending on the region).
Destruction on North Carolina's coast helped spur building-code changes that required houses to be built on stilts.
"The last time our unit responded to support state active duty for a hurricane, I was very new to the unit and didn't know if there was much I could do to contribute", said Spc. "This is the craziest one".
"I'd rather be safe than sorry", McMaster told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday morning.
The hazards are likely to extend far from the coast, Cline said. He said the federal government is "absolutely, totally prepared" for Florence.
What's more, the research found that storms of super extreme intensity, with maximum sustained winds above 305kph, also became more common.
On North Carolina's Outer Banks, Dawn Farrow Taylor, 50, was gathering photos and important documents and filling prescriptions Monday before heading inland. "Everyone was sold out", she said.
Florence is rated a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. And out here we're so fragile. CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reported that lanes, at noon, will be reversed on four of the largest roads leading to the SC coast, so cars will only be able to drive inland. Major hurricane winds are likely for Myrtle Beach and Wilmington.
Trojniar said she and her husband were packing up belongings and plan to stack sandbags around their single-floor home in Wilmington's eerily named Landfall neighborhood near the ocean before checking into a hotel to ride out the storm, with plenty of wine.