Coastal residents fleeing a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared the Carolina coast with 130 miles per hour winds and drenching rain that could last for days.
By 8 a.m. Tuesday, Florence's eye was about 950 miles (1,530 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).
Forecasters expect 12 to 18 inches of rain with locally higher amounts.
- To whip up a monstrous storm like the one chugging for the Carolinas you need a handful of ingredients - and Florence has them all. "It's a backhand forehand slap with this event with the removal of natural wetlands that protect cities and landscape", Strader said.
"Florence is going to drop tremendous amount of rain, not as much as [Hurricane] Harvey brought to Texas but there will nearly definitely be flooding", Salna says. To assist the South Carolina Highway patrol with a smooth transition and movement, Guardsmen were positioned on the roads at traffic control points, assisting local law enforcement with evacuation routes and lane reversals. "This is going to be catastrophic in parts of eastern North Carolina".
But his partner, Emily Whisler, said she will remain behind at the university where she is a resident in the psychiatry program.
Florence could be only the second Category 4 storm to pummel the Carolinas since 1800, when record-keeping began.
This is a large and exceptionally powerful storm, and although it may weaken slightly before making landfall, its winds are forecast to reach at least 130mph.
"I can't emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding with this storm", one NWS forecaster said. He noted that Dominion Energy Inc's Surry plant in Virginia could also be affected if Florence turns north.
Airlines, including American and Southwest, have started letting passengers change travel plans that take them into the hurricane's possible path. A hospital in Hampton, Virginia, was transferring patients to safer places.
US President Donald Trump has authorised emergency measures to free up federal funds to help those responding to the storm.
Florence is continuing to move west-northwest at 17 miles per hour, with winds in the 130 miles per hour range, but is giving hints of deviations, says the National Hurricane Center.
The federal government has made similar warnings, with FEMA Administrator Brock Long saying Florence could knock out power for "weeks". "A similar set-up happened with Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area past year, causing Harvey to move very little for about two days". Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.
Days before its arrival, Florence was already disrupting commercial operations. ABC reported that Boeing has stopped its operations in SC because of the threat.
Residents prepared by boarding up their homes and stocking up on food, water and other essentials, stripping many grocery store shelves of merchandise. Some gas stations also ran low on fuel.
Her home in Hillsborough, North Carolina, is at risk for flooding, and her family and nearby relatives will ride out the storm in Chattanooga, Tennessee. "There's no canned goods", Kristin Harrington said as she shopped at a Walmart in Wilmington.
"This paper doesn't really say what we've had so far, if there's a trend", said Bhatia. "If we try to leave, we'll just get stuck in the rain".