Reports out of Wilmington, North Carolina, said that the outer bands of wind and rain from Florence, a Category 2 storm with 105 miles per hour winds, are hitting North Carolina.
The latest rainfall projections warn of 20 to 40 inches of rain from coastal North Carolina into northeastern SC - amounts that could bring "catastrophic flash flooding", the hurricane center said.
The effects of Hurricane Florence can already be felt along the coast of North Carolina as of 12 p.m. on September 13.
Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms. Additionally, tornadoes could arise in southeast North Carolina on Thursday and Friday. However, meteorologists are warning that people in its path are still facing risky, life-threatening conditions.
Marshall: When should we now expect landfall along the coast? Concern was high enough for the expensive jets that the plane manufacturer flew them all the way across the United States to its main facility outside Seattle, Washington.
Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial and farm waste sites.
After spreading rain westward to the southern Appalachians and Piedmont areas, torrential rain is forecast to reach parts of the northeastern part of the U.S. next week. Although it has shown signs of weakening, it will remain a powerful force, forecasters say.
Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights as it zeroes in on the Southeastern coast.
Mayor Joe Benson said the storm will batter the oceanside town through two high tide periods. The Saffir-Simpson scale that meteorologists use to measure hurricanes reflects only the wind speeds involved in the storm, and right now Hurricane Florence's winds are hovering at maximum speeds of about 110 miles per hour (175 km/h).
A line of heavy traffic moved away from the coast on Interstate 40, the main route between the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, and inland Raleigh.
On Instagram, parenting blogger Chrissy Marie, based in North Carolina, posted a photo of her kids' hurricane party, complete with bright pink balloons.
Though most residents of North and SC and other areas in the hurricane's path have abided by the mandatory evacuation order, Kourounis jokes that the Waffle House is still open. More flights were expected to be grounded and more airports were preparing to shut down operations as the storm moves inland. The ground is saturated with water and unlikely able to withstand the heavy, persistent rains that are expected.
Numerous communities throughout the region have issued either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders.
"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence", Deal said.
Storm surge warnings were issued from South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina.
The path of Hurricane Florence has changed since Cooper made that statement Tuesday.
"Extremely risky winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage".