Faced with new forecasts that showed a more southerly threat, Georgia's governor joined his counterparts in Virginia and North and SC in declaring a state of emergency, and some residents who had thought they were safely out of range boarded up their homes. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centers to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.
"We're talking 12-foot seas stretching 300 miles away from the center", the NHC's Graham said.
The Department of Information Technology, headed by North Carolina CIO Eric Boyette, also has a major presence at the state's emergency operations center, located at the North Carolina National Guard's headquarters in Raleigh.
Areas along the coast from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, NC, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers may experience storm surges from 9 to 13 feet.
The storm is expected to bring tropical storm-force winds, life-threatening storm surges of seawater and 35 inches (89 cm) of rain to parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, where intense inland flooding was expected, the center said.
After landfall, Florence slowed to a pace that would see the system likely lingering for days.
"The time to prepare is nearly over", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper at a Wednesday morning news conference.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for north of Duck, NC, to the North Carolina/Virginia border.
Hurricane Florence kills at least three people
After all that, what is left of Florence will turn north towards Rochester. "It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave". Video from Belhaven, North Carolina, showed storm-surge flooding up to the window-level of a house early Friday morning.
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UNC, NC State cancel football games due to Hurricane Florence
He said Congress would be generous with disaster relief funding. "This is not going to be a storm that we recover from in days". Hurricane Florence has intensified to a Category 4 Hurricane after it was reduced to a tropical storm over the weekend.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections' Palmer Pre Release Center a Level 1 Minimum Custody Prison in Florence, South Carolina, was evacuated in advance of Hurricane Florence due to security reasons. The Category 4 storm destroyed 15,000 buildings and killed 19 people in North Carolina. It will possibly weaken somewhat as it nears land - but that will hardly change the flooding threat. Life-threatening storms are expected across large portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states.
The storm, which fell from category four to category three on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, is expected to strengthen despite it weakening on Wednesday.
The storm looked likely to make landfall on the coast of North and SC but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south. Tropical Storm Olivia is expected to move over Hawaii Wednesday or Thursday, KHNL reported. In South Carolina and inland parts of North Carolina, 5 to 10 inches of rain could fall, with 20 inches possible in some areas.
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"We can only hope it won't hit hard", White said. This will allow Florence to continually batter the same areas for hours on end and allow storm surge to inundate the coast through multiple high tide cycles. Additional swell courtesy of other activity in the tropics keeps plenty of fun surf around for the weekend, so stay tuned to the regional forecast updates for the latest.
"Bad things can happen when you're talking about a storm this size", Trump said Wednesday morning.
Jeff Byard of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was imperative locals heed the evacuation warnings. "If we try to leave, we'll just get stuck in the rain".