"As we continue to monitor the path of Hurricane Florence and make preparations, Floridians must remain vigilant".
Officials can't overstate the potential danger the storm could bring, with the National Weather Service recently saying Florence will likely be the "storm of a lifetime" for the Carolina coast. This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and SC but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend.
Hurricane Florence is now expected to head more directly west after making landfall, crossing through SC.
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.
Damaging hurricane-force winds are likely along portions of the coasts of SC and North Carolina, and a Hurricane Warning is in effect.
Those facing the most serious threat are in the Carolinas, as Category 4 Hurricane Florence barrels toward the coast, with an expected landfall Friday.
South Carolina's governor ordered the state's entire coastline evacuated at noon Tuesday and predicted that 1 million people would flee as highways reverse directions.
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"It's going to coming roaring up to the coast Thursday night and say 'I'm not sure I really want to do this and I'll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland,"' said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall". More to come on this part of the forecast.
"The time to prepare is nearly over", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a morning news conference. Now a Category 4 storm, it's possible that it could strengthen even more as it moves swiftly through the Atlantic Ocean.
As of 8 a.m. ET, Florence was 530 miles southeast of Cape Fear, N.C., moving west-northwest at 17 mph, the National Hurricane Center says.
The European Model projects that Florence will track a bit further south, bringing more severe weather to SC.
In a videotaped message from the White House, President Donald Trump said the government is fully prepared for Florence but urged people to "get out of its way".
Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.