Some of the most devastating hurricanes to strike the Carolinas since the 1950s followed the south-to-north path, including Agnes, Fran and Floyd.
Tropical storm force winds are in the 39 miles per hour to 73 miles per hour range, says NOAA.
Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and SC and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall on Friday, and its rains will take a heavy toll for miles inland, the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned. "This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast".
On the opposite side of the country, officials in Hawaii are warning residents and tourists to brace for the arrival of Tropical Storm Olivia. Combined with high tides, the storm surge could swell as high as 12 feet.
Tropical-storm-force winds could reach the coastline as early as Wednesday night, at which point all outdoor preparations should be completed.
Florence continued its path toward the East Coast overnight Monday, maintaining its monstrous Category 4 storm status and 140-mph winds. It was a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm but was expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, which means winds of 157 miles per hour (253 kph) or higher.
Hugo also caused damages estimated at $8 billion. One power station, Duke Energy Corp's Brunswick plant, the closest to the area where landfall is forecast, faced a likely shutdown as a precaution. If this happens, the result will be heavy rains that cause serious damage.
A hurricane warning was posted for most of the Carolina coast north to the Virginia border.
Total insured losses were estimated to be about $1.3 billion. Since 1851, only 10 major hurricanes have done so, and the most recent was Fran in 1996, 22 years ago. Flooding caused 50 of the 56 US deaths attributed to Floyd and much of the damage, which was estimated at up to $6 billion.
She told ABC News that she and her husband kept some dogs in their care when Hurricane Matthew hit in 2017. Tropical Storm Isaac was expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land.
Hurricane Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 485 kilometres ahead of its "eye", and so full of rain that a swath from SC to OH and Pennsylvania could get deluged.
"It's possible it could be even higher than that depending on how quickly the storm moves to the coast, but we're kind of expecting it to slow down as it moves to the coast and would probably cut down the storm surge", AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski says.
Rainfall of up to 35 inches is expected in some places.
As of early Wednesday morning, Hurricane Florence had weakened slightly with sustained winds of 130mph, but this is of little outcome as the track forecast now shows a risky stalling out near the coast, or just onshore by late Thursday or Friday morning.
Jeff Byard, FEMA's associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery, said on Wednesday that the hurricane could pack "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast".
Current forecasts call for Florence to be at least a Category 3 storm when it arrives at the Carolinas.
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