And there is also a major threat from freshwater, with warnings of "catastrophic" flooding from lakes, rivers and freshwater reserves expected over parts of the Carolinas and Virginia.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated as Hurricane Florence closes in on North Carolina's coast with "life-threatening" winds.
Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 3.4 metres of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 900mm of rain, triggering severe flooding. The eye of that hurricane merely grazed the coast.
Keith Acre of North Carolina's Department of Emergency Management said: "This has been a really large evacuation and sheltering operation, probably the largest we've done, so that has not been an east lift". Its forward movement was 6 miles per hour.
Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning". "Florence will then recurve across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week".
Winds were already picking up along the coastline early Thursday and some minor flooding was reported on the Outer Banks, barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, and in some seaside coastal towns.
Ken Graham, NHC director, said on Facebook the storm surges could push in as far as two miles.
Hurricane Florence, the powerful category 2 storm, continues to churn towards the North Carolina and SC border and a local woman is stuck in the storm's path.
"It's going to be a lot of wind".
Air Force General Terrence J O'Shaughnessy, head of US Command, said search and rescue is a top priority but that the magnitude of the storm may exceed the ability of rescuers.
"This storm will bring destruction to North Carolina". The rainfall will cause prolonged significant river flooding.
Almost 1.8million people have been ordered to evacuate from coastal areas.
About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by what officials called a "once in a lifetime" storm.
Georgia, where governor Nathan Deal has now declared an emergency, is also thought to be in the firing line.
"Remember most storm deaths occur from drowning in fresh water, often in cars".
Hurricane-force winds now extend up to 80 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 195 miles from the center of the storm.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for.
Meteorologist Erika Navarro explained how flood waters have the potential to reach a height of up to nine feet (2.7 metres) in areas not just on the coast, but inland along rivers.
The size of a hurricane's storm surge does not factor into the category of a storm.
This isn't the first storm the Mramers have waited out.
"If it was a Category Four and we were going to get a direct hit, yes, we wouldn't be here".
When will it make landfall?
"Whether you have a house or not, when the storm comes it will bring everyone together. Soybeans have just begun harvesting in the very far eastern part of North Carolina but have not begun anywhere else in the state". Wilmington is expected to get battered before the storm drifts south. "A storm can come and wipe your house out overnight".
Joyce, which is about 1,040 miles from the Azores, is moving south-southwest near 7 mph. The National Weather Center upgraded Subtropical Storm Joyce to Tropical Storm Joyce in its 11 p.m. Thursday update.
Another disturbance is swirling around in the Gulf of Mexico. The NHC is encouraging officials in northeastern Mexico, Texas and Louisiana to monitor its progress.
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Parent company L Brands announced Friday that it would be shuttering the luxury store after 123 years, CNN reported. The company estimates that Henri Bendel will have $85 million revenues and a $45 million operating loss in 2018.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there are 12 nuclear plants in the Carolinas that make electricity for the region. In addition to all of this, the spread of pig manure into flood waters is also a concern.
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Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina , Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave. Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.
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Confirmed Dead Due to Hurricane Florence
It started pushing its way westward across SC later in the day, in a watery siege that could go on all weekend. The father was also in the house and had to be taken to a local hospital for treatment after the incident.
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5 dead in Hurricane Florence, including mom and infant
Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland in the Carolinas over the next few days. More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.
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