A "phenomenal" 83-foot wave stirred in the eastern quadrant of Hurricane Florence early Wednesday morning, according to Eric Christensen, a senior marine meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center.
"Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you", he added.
Closing in with terrifying winds of 130 miles per hour (215 kph) and potentially catastrophic rain and storm surge, Florence is expected to blow ashore Saturday morning along the North Carolina-South Carolina line, the National Hurricane Center said.
Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less unsafe, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion.
Satellite radar picked up the image Wednesday between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., when Hurricane Florence was located about 660 miles southeast of Wilmington, N.C., he said.
Two other tropical storms - Isaac and Olivia - have also been in the vicinity this week, with the National Weather Service estimating that some 10.15 million people lived in areas under either hurricane or tropical storm warnings.
North and SC, along with Virginia, Maryland and Georgia, remain under states of emergency ahead of the "Mike Tyson punch" of a storm's expected landfall in the US later this week.
"Get out of its way, don't play games with it".
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".More news: Aaron Rodgers Injury: Packers QB Gives Update Before Week 2 Vs. Vikings
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More than 10 million people are in the crosshairs of Hurricane Florence as storm force winds move within hours of battering the U.S. east coast.
"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The National Hurricane Center's projected track had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast from Thursday night until landfall Saturday morning or so, about a day later than previously expected.
Incredible time-lapse footage filmed from a hurricane-hunting plane shows what's it's like to fly through the eye of Florence, the storm that's already forced more than 1 million people to evacuate. By the time the storm hits, Duke will have over 20,000 people on the ground to help.
Duke Energy, the nation's No. 2 power company, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its four million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.
"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety", Deal said.
Since Tuesday, forecasts have shifted the storm track towards the south and southwest after it reaches the coast, which could increase the storm's severity in coastal SC through Myrtle Beach and Charleston and even into parts of Georgia.
And the storm surge, which could be as much as 12 feet in some areas, will be on top of sea level rise from climate change.