GREENSBORO — Meteorologists said Guilford County can expect tropical storm force winds and substantial rain beginning late Wednesday night. 

Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm, is swirling in the Atlantic Ocean and on track to make landfall in the Carolinas, bringing both damaging winds and flooding to Greensboro. 

"This isn't ideal for North Carolina by any means," said James Morrow, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Raleigh. "This falls on the worst case scenario part of the spectrum."

Morrow said the storm is expected to linger over the area at least four days. Guilford County residents should anticipate staying home through Saturday, if not Sunday.

He added that Guilford County residents should have actionable hurricane preparedness plans completed no later than dinnertime Wednesday. In a speech earlier Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents to prepare for the hurricane now. 

"North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously, and you should too," Cooper said. "Get ready now." 

Rainfall is the biggest threat to Guilford County, Morrow said. 

In a best case scenario, rain totals are expected to reach 4 inches. But Morrow said Guilford County will likely see between 8 to 12 inches, and if the storm slows over North Carolina as expected, totals locally could reach 20 inches. 

This type of storm could cause arerial flooding, flash flooding and river flooding. 

Morrow said it is also expected to bring tropical storm force winds to Guilford County as early as Thursday morning. 

A tropical storm force wind means the wind will blow at sustained rates between 30 to 50 mph and gusts could likely reach 60 to 70 mph. 

Those winds could cause downed branches, trees, power lines and structural damage. 

Morrow said meteorologists are still tracking the storm so residents should pay attention to local news reports about where the storm is heading. He added that the chances North Carolina is impacted is currently between 80-100 percent, but that gap will likely continue to close. 

This is a developing story. The N&R has lowered the paywalls for and the e-edition so continue checking for more hurricane coverage and follow #GSOFlo on social media. 

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Staff writer Danielle Battaglia contributed to this story.

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