Parts of Virginia, North Carolina, and SC have issued mandatory evacuation orders, and governors of all three states as well as Maryland have declared states of emergency in the run-up to Florence making landfall.
The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring its devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state.
We are in the Cape Fear region in North Carolina, where residents have been rushing to escape inland.
Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) invoked a former boxing champion to warn residents that Florence would bring "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast".
Tropical storm-force winds extended 195 miles (315 kilometers) from Florence's center, and hurricane-force winds reached out 70 miles (110 kilometers). The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore.More news: 9/11 anniversary: Russian bombers intercepted near Alaska by U.S. fighter jets
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Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.
Governor Deal said yesterday: "The state is mobilising all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence".
"This is a very unsafe hurricane", Mr McMaster said, adding that the evacuation order for coastal counties was "mandatory, not voluntary".
Note: This may not be the most recent forecast, please visit www.myfox8.com or open the FOX8 app for the very latest on Hurricane Florence. Shelters in the city were filling and some people were being bused inland to Raleigh, even though some residents there were told they might have to evacuate. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle.
"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said.
"Someone's gonna get screwed on this", he said. The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge". "Also, a little creepy".