Preceded first by the storm surge and the winds, heavy rains were picking up as of late Thursday afternoon, the beginning of an onslaught that for some areas may not relent for days.
In this September 12, 2018 photo provided by NASA, hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the USA east coast as seen from the International Space Station.
Besides inundating the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 13 feet (four meters) along the Carolina coast, Florence could dump 20 to 30 inches (51-76 cm) of rain over much of the region. Officials say people refusing to evacuate could end up alone, drenched and in the dark, as rescue crews won't go out to help in winds above 80 km/h. He added later, "Most of the fatalities in these tropical systems is water".
"Hurricane Florence was uninvited but she's just about here anyway", he said at a news conference.
Florence is moving northwest at about 10 miles per hour.
After making landfall in the lower Outer Banks of North Carolina, the storm is expected to make a shift to the left toward SC before trekking west and then north.
A powerful high-pressure ridge is expected to keep Florence south through the weekend after its expected landfall Friday morning in the Myrtle Beach/Wilmington areas of South and North Carolina.
The Coast Guard says port operations in Charleston, South Carolina, have been stopped as Hurricane Florence approaches the coast.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina.
Despite the drop in maximum sustained winds, forecasters stress that this hurricane is not to be taken lightly.
He urged people in the coastal Carolinas and living near inland rivers to evacuate now. Florence remains a risky Cat 4 with max winds of 130 miles per hour with a NW movement of 15 miles per hour.
Serious flooding was also reported in SC, and several coastal communities were placed under nighttime curfews during the storm.
Super Typhoon Mangkhut tore through the northern tip of the Philippines on Saturday packing winds of more than 200 km per hour (124 mph) along with torrential rain, killing three people and causing floods, landslides and power outages.
Calling the storm surge prediction "incredible", Graham said that because Florence will likely nudge its way onto the coast, giving its hurricane winds lots of time to force water inland, he wouldn't be surprised "to see storm surge a mile, a mile and a half inland - maybe even two miles or more, in some cases". "While we expect an AccuWeather Local StormMax of 40 inches of rain, extensive inland flooding and storm surge flooding from Florence, Hurricane Harvey unleashed more than 60 inches of rain locally centered around the United States' fourth largest city, Houston, which has a population of 2.3 million".