As Hurricane Florence creeps towards the United States' east coast, a NIWA forecaster warns it could be the "worst tropical system in a generation" for a coastal state.
While the storm has been reduced from Category 4 to Category 2 by meteorologists, NIWA's Chris Brandolino says that doesn't mean it won't be deadly, telling The AM Show water is the main threat to residents along the US east coast, particularly in North Carolina.
He said it's important for people not to get caught up in the storm category labels, and remember that weak tropical systems can still bring devastating impacts if the storm stalls and generates heavy rain, which it would then dump on land.
"That's one of the things we have to worry about with Florence, because it's going to slow down as it gets to the coast, which means heavy rain is going to persist and the battering of waves will also persist," he said.
"Water coming from the heavens or water coming from the sea - it is water that is the main hazard with tropical systems, not wind."
He said North Carolina and South Carolina could exceed state records with rainfall amounts. This won't be widespread, he adds, but some areas will exceed one metre of rainfall over the course of three or five days.
The weather has been progressively deteriorating, CBS News correspondent Mola Lenghi told The AM Show. Stormy conditions haven't yet reached the coast, but 12-16 hours from now is "when we're really expecting Hurricane Florence to be in full swing," he said.
"These towns aren't 100 percent evacuated. Whenever you have these hurricanes coming through, you always have some people deciding to hunker down and try to ride out the storm, but for the most part, by and large, the majority of people heeded the warnings and evacuated."
A segment that aired on US television has highlighted the stark danger posed by Hurricane Florence, with graphics showing water levels rapidly rising up to two metres on the streets.