Hurricane Florence Prompts Chilling Warning From National Weather Service: 'Will Be the Storm of a Lifetime'

Hurricane Florence will be "the storm of a lifetime," according to the National Weather Service.

As thousands evacuate parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia in preparation for a direct hit by the category 4 hurricane set to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday, the National Weather Service Wilmington has issued a chilling warning, dubbing Hurricane Florence as potentially one of the most dangerous storms to hit the east coast in decades.

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast, and that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew," a National Weather Service Wilmington, North Carolina, spokesperson said in the organization's forecast. "I can`t emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding with this storm."

Florence, which was upgraded from a category 3 to a category 4 storm earlier this week, is expected to bring devastating winds upwards of 140 mph when it makes landfall along the east coast.

The storm is also expected to bring heavy rain, with North Carolina and parts of Virginia expected to receive 30 inches of rain while Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., may receive 10 inches of rain, totals that have the potential to increase given Florence's slow movement and forecast to stall once it reaches land.

A "destructive" storm surge – up to 12 or 15 feet in some areas – is expected to accompany the eye coming ashore sometime Thursday night into Friday, bringing coastal flooding that may last into the weekend and cause "significant" beach erosion.

According to The Weather Channel, hurricane and storm surge warnings are in effect from the South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, including the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, including Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, and most of the Outer Banks.

"This storm is ... nothing like you've ever seen," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said, according to CNN. "Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don't bet your life on riding out a monster."

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More than one million people are under mandatory evacuation orders in coastal areas of Virginia, North Caroline, and South Carolina, and the governors of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina have issued state of emergency declarations in preparation of the storm.

Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia may also feel the impact of Hurricane Florence.