Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, early on Friday morning. The storm has been blamed for at least five fatalities as of Saturday morning.
Nearly 1 million customers have lost power across North and South Carolina since Florence first began impacting the region on Thursday.
Excessive rainfall will contribute to more catastrophic flooding across southeastern and south-central North Carolina and into northeastern South Carolina this weekend.
Gusty winds downing trees, isolated tornadoes and coastal flooding can further damage property and increase the number of residents without power.
A flash flood emergency is unfolding across a stretch of North Carolina as a stationary heavy rain band from Florence has been sitting over the region, which spans from Wilmington to Jacksonville and Swansboro along the coast to just south of Raleigh and Fayetteville inland.
AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said that the persistent rain band on the south side of Florence is "just frightening."
Florence's slow motion will pose great risk to lives and take a costly toll on property.
“AccuWeather estimates that Florence will cause $30 (billion) to $60 billion in economic impact and damage. To put this in context, we correctly predicted the full extent of Hurricane Harvey’s economic damage to be $190 billion last year. 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,” AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel N. Myers said.
“For further context, we accurately estimated the total economic impact from Hurricane Irma would be $100 billion. Additionally, Florence’s projected toll is less than Hurricane Sandy's toll of $69 billion and Katrina's cost of $161 billion,” Myers said.
"Other sources are predicting a financial toll for Florence of up to $170 billion, and we think that is extreme when looking at Florence’s track and impacts to people and their lives. Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm Friday morning. Storms of this magnitude have struck the U.S. coastline in the past, in some cases causing $10 billion or less in total damage,” Myers said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Brian Lada is an AccuWeather meteorologist and Chaffin Mitchell is an AccuWeather staff writer.