The "probable" forecast path for Florence, a Category 4 hurricane, as of 5 a.m. Wednesday showed the storm shifting further toward the southern North Carolina coast and the northern half of the SC coast, with the forecast cone stretching into Georgia, western North Carolina and Tennessee, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane-force winds (74 to 95 mph) are now extending out up to 60 miles from the center of the storm, and tropical-storm-force winds are being felt as much as 175 miles around the storm.
The center of the Category 4 Hurricane, still swirling with top winds of 130 mph (215 kph), was about 530 miles (855 kilometers) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, approaching the coast at 17 mph (28 kph). He cited forecasts showing Florence was likely to stall over North Carolina, "bringing days and days of rain". "I can't emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding with this storm".
More than 1 million residents have been ordered to evacuate the coastline of the three states, while university campuses, schools and factories were being shuttered.
The massive storm is threatening the East Coast of the USA with an expected landfall early Friday.
Beaufort County could see tropical storm winds between 30 and 40 miles per hour as early as mid-day Thursday, but the area is not likely to see any direct impacts from the storm until Friday "with the strongest winds being later Saturday and into Sunday", he said.
Mayor Joe Benson of Carolina Beach, a small town near Wilmington with a permanent population of about 6,300, said he believes half of the residents have stayed on the island.
Florence is one of four named storms in the Atlantic.More news: Apple's September 2018 iPhone Event
"This is not going to be a glancing blow", warned Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
This remarkable satellite image shows Hurricane Florence is one of just nine potentially unsafe storms now circling around the world. Tropical Storm Isaac was expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land.
Trump said that his administration is "ready". It will be more tropical depression at that point.
Some airlines will allow you to change your flights for free while waiving fees for baggage and pets or even offering refunds.
Forecasters said Wednesday that Florence's wind field is expanding, making it a large, stable hurricane with a clearly defined eye at its center.
Boeing Co suspended work on Tuesday at the SC plant where it assembles 787 widebody jetliners, and a Volvo automobile plant in South Carolina's evacuation zone was also closed, company officials said.
US President Donald Trump has authorised emergency measures to free up federal funds to help those responding to the storm. At the least, I expect those in the red zone to experience some impacts from wind and rain.