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(CNN) — Florence, a Category 4 hurricane packing 130 miles per hour winds, is churning ominously with its sights set on the Carolinas.

How worrisome is it? Here’s how a National Weather Service meteorologist in Wilmington North Carolina described it:

“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. I can`t emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding with this storm.”

Here are five facts that show the power of the hurricane.

  • If the forecast holds, Hurricane Florence will become the highest north on the East Coast that a Category 4 hurricane has ever made landfall. (That record current goes to Hurricane Hazel, which made landfall on the North Carolina/South Carolina border in 1954.)
  • Florence would be the strongest storm to make landfall anywhere on the East Coast since 1992, when Hurricane Andrew hit.
  • The tropical storm-force winds extend 280 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, which is far enough to reach from Boston to Philadelphia.
  • The winds cover an area more than 53,000 square miles — which is larger than the entire state of North Carolina.
  • There are more than 20 million people facing the threat of the storm. 


(PHOTO: Kaylee Hartung/CNN)