On Thursday morning, a tweet from South Carolina's Emergency Management Division brought this perspective on Florence's sheer size: It's "larger than SC and North Carolina combined". "In light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall, I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas".
In addition to the hurricane's obvious risks, the National Weather Service says, "A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday". Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.
The center of Florence is expected to approach the coasts of North and SC later on Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.
The result could be what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago: catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, farms and industrial sites. But, we caught up with several people arriving here.
In addition to the storm surge, "There is going to be a lot of rain", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said on Thursday.
"Don't relax, don't get complacent".
Weather and emergency officials are warning people in Florence's path not to interpret maps showing the location of the storm's center, or reports that it's losing top wind strength, as signs that they should relax.
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The governor says there's a real concern for some communities in the Peach State.
New Hanover County Emergency Management Director Steven Still said Thursday that residents who didn't evacuate should expect 60 miles per hour (97 kph) winds by 7 p.m. that would eventually increase to 100 miles per hour (161 kph) or more.
Scientists said it is too soon to say what role, if any, global warming played in the storm.
Florence, which is barreling down on the coasts of the Carolinas today became a Category 4 over the Atlantic Ocean. But previous research has shown that the strongest hurricanes are getting wetter, more intense and intensifying faster because of human-caused climate change.
Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave. Airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centers to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.
Hurricane Florence put a corridor of more than 10 million people in the crosshairs Wednesday as the monster storm closed in on the Carolinas, uncertainty over its projected path spreading worry across a widening swath of the Southeast. Tropical Storm Olivia has made landfall in the Hawaiian islands, the Philippines are bracing for the powerful typhoon Mangkhut, and Tropical Storm Isaac is nearing the Leeward Islands.
"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", he said.
A hurricane warning is in effect for a big chunk of the Carolina coast, from the South Santee River below Myrtle Beach, S.C., to Duck, N.C. - part of the Outer Banks.