The National Hurricane Center is calling for 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimetres) of rain in North Carolina, with spots up to 40 inches (100 centimetres). The threat of tornadoes increases as Florence moves closer, with landfall expected Friday morning.
Hurricane conditions will likely hit the Carolina coast on Thursday night or early Friday.
It was located about 85 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 145 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The storm was moving northwest at 12 miles per hour.
Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday evening at 90 miles per hour (150 km/h) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 miles per hour (224 km/h) earlier this week when it was classified a Category 4 storm. Currently, the storm is a Category 2, which is a drop, but the weakinging also presents challenges.
The National Weather Service also predicts "catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding" in parts of the Carolinas and Appalachians. Storm surge warnings, hurricane warnings, and tropical storm warnings are in effect along the coast of the Carolinas.
The storm will churn very slowly Friday and Saturday, extending the damaging winds and huge amounts of rain that will hit the same areas of North and SC for 24 hours. The storm could knock out electricity to several million customers in the Carolinas.
The Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower, an old Coast Guard tower 32 miles off the coast of southeastern North Carolina, is broadcasting live with a solar-powered camera.
With their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.
For those in an evacuation area, "there is still time to get out", Cooper said Thursday. A monster. A once-in-a-lifetime storm.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", New Bern city officials said on Twitter. "I know it's hard to move, and I know that you are leaving things behind that you don't want to leave behind, but no possession is worth your life". "Now is the time to go because that window of opportunity is closing on you very quickly".
But North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".
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All four major U.S. airlines have said they are capping selected airfares below what last-minute tickets would cost.
She continued: "Of course we're anxious". They formed a convoy to an emergency operations center, according to the Jacksonville Daily News. His remarks fell flat in Puerto Rico where islanders are continuing to struggle to recover a year after the Category 4 storm. "You feel like you should have already left". "But we're going to stay as long as we can".
SURF: Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda, portions of the U.S. East Coast, and the northwestern and central Bahamas.
By 5 a.m. today, the storm was about 205 miles east/southeast of Wilmington, N.C. with 110-mph maximum sustained winds. "Its a big one", he said at the White House.
"I'm not going to put our personnel in harm's way, especially for people that we've already told to evacuate, " Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House said. "It's probably good for our marriage".
Private meteorologist Ryan Maue of Weathermodels.com in an email called the overnight European computer simulation "another model run for the ages". I'm glad we both came to the decision ourselves.
Supermarket shelves have been left empty as Americans across the country have been panic buying food ahead of the storm and motorways have been left full of traffic as locals scramble to get out of the path of Hurricane Florence.
The South Carolina county encompassing Myrtle Beach has imposed a 7 p.m.to 7 a.m. curfew.
Peak rain rates of about 1 inch per hour were recorded in Puna and South Hilo.
FlightAware expects the number of cancellations to rise, although "the limited number of hubs being impacted by Florence will likely limit the scale of disruption that cascades through the national air travel system", spokeswoman Sara Orsi said in a statement.