With South Carolina's beach towns now more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.
The Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads was closed Wednesday but planned to reopen Thursday on news that Florence had veered south.
Florence will bring large rainfall totals through Saturday in North Carolina, north SC and Virginia, causing catastrophic flash flooding.
The hurricane is exposing other chinks in the supply chain, as many retailers big and small are running low on storm-prep essentials, from batteries, generators and plywood to bread and bottled water.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned residents not to "underestimate" the storm.
The threat of storm surges loom for areas in the path of the storm, meaning life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland is possible in the next 36 hours.
The National Hurricane Center's best guess was that Florence's eye would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.
Florence, now a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (209 km/h), was previously expected to travel north, up the North Carolina coast, after making landfall, according to the statement.
About 1.7 million people have already been told to leave their homes in the latter three states, but some who thought they were safely out of the path of the storm are now desperately working to board up their homes and businesses before its arrival.
Higher sea levels to make a storm surge worse.
"The traffic control points or lane reversals are still in effect", said Joseph Hill, police chief in Horry County, S.C., at a news conference Wednesday in Myrtle Beach.
By early Saturday morning, Florence is expected to have weakened to a tropical storm, and by early Sunday, it will be a tropical depression.
Energy companies have also warned that the storm could knock out power for the foreseeable future in some areas. Tropical Storm Olivia made a double landfall in Hawaii Wednesday morning, first in west Maui then Lanai, KHNL reports. It was located 85 miles from Wilmington at 8 p.m. Thursday and its eye was expected to make landfall Friday, the advisory said. That's on top of the flooding, flying debris, and the other immediate storm-related events that can claim countless lives. North Carolina alone could get from 20 to 30 inches, with isolated spots possibly receiving 40 inches.
Hurricane Helene is moving north, where it's expected to become a tropical storm on Thursday. It's the U.S.'s biggest tobacco producer - accounting for 60 percent of exports - and it raises roughly 10 percent of the country's hogs, chickens and turkeys. I believe that was a Category 1 storm when it hit Charlotte. The NHC is encouraging officials in northeastern Mexico, Texas and Louisiana to monitor its progress.
NASA captures stunning views of Hurricane Florence from space
Henry McMaster has issued an evacuation order for SC as the area prepares for Hurricane Florence's possible landfall. Henry McMaster ordered a mandatory evacuation of most of the state's coast beginning at noon on Tuesday.
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