Long cautioned coastal residents via Twitter of storm surges up to 12ft - "rapid rise of water that is overwhelming and deadly".
Sharp doesn't like to compare hurricanes because each one is different, but he did note that Florence is a stronger storm than Matthew, which hit the state in 2016.
Cooper and his counterparts in neighbouring SC and Virginia ordered about 1 million people to evacuate coastal homes, including along the Outer Banks barrier islands. "However, if the storm does stall, it could drop 10-20" of rain, leading to flooding well inland.
Miller said residents should prepare for the storm by stocking up on bottled water and batteries for flashlights, ensure storm drains are free of debris and clean gutters and downspouts to prevent basement flooding.
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Federal forecasters expect the storm to make landfall on Friday with 130 mile-per-hour (215 kph) winds and massive waves, with rains taking a heavy toll inland.
"This storm is a monster", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference on Tuesday.
Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 480km ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swath of states from SC to OH and Pennsylvania could get deluged. "This is a big storm".
FEMA is under close scrutiny this year after the agency admitted it was "underprepared" Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico last year. "We are leaving him our generator, but I don't think it's particularly smart of him". Their main model shows it won't become a major hurricane.
He added: "It's an extremely unsafe, life-threatening, historic hurricane. the forecast shows Florence stalling over North Carolina, bringing days and days of rain".
Track major Hurricane Florence: Spaghetti models, forecast cone and satellite
As of noon EDT, Florence was centered about 575 miles (925 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda, moving west at 13 mph (20 kph). Exactly where Florence will track is largely depended on an area of high pressure that is expected to expand north of the system.
"You may see a smaller footprint from the operations staff, but. that is what is needed at the time, at this time in the state", Byard said. "All you have to do is look up at your ceiling, and think about 12 feet (of water)".
Governor Cooper has urged people to heed warnings from weather experts and forecasters, describing the incoming storm as "extremely dangerous" and "life-threatening".
In addition to thousands of homes and businesses, five military bases and half a dozen nuclear power plants are also in the path of the storm.
"The largest threat to life from hurricanes is not the high winds".
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