The hurricane center is forecasting the storm to hover near the coast Saturday with winds of around 80 miles per hour (130 kph) before landfall, but with rainfall in the 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimeter) range and up to 13 feet (nearly 4 meters) of storm surge.
A tropical storm warning, indicating the expectation of conditions below hurricane-strength winds, is in effect for coastal areas north of the Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, Va., and in Chesapeake Bay, south of New Point Comfort, Va.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that storm surge watches and warnings are in effect Wednesday for the entire North Carolina coast and parts of SC.
"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast", it said early Wednesday.
Hurricane force winds are expected along portions of the coasts of SC and North Carolina and a hurricane warning is in effect there. It will then slow considerably while strengthening off the US coast, and produce extremely risky conditions in its path.
Matthews Motors is using its cars to hopefully shield the business from Hurricane Florence's devastation.
So far, it's estimate more than 1.7 million Americans have heeded the warnings about Hurricane Florence.
The eye of the storm was about 575 miles southeast of Cape Fear, N.C., early Wednesday, and moving west-northwest at 17 mph with recorded maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, the NHC said.
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. "I think with this one, based on the fact that they really don't know if it's coming in at 115 (mph) or coming in at 140 (mph), I think it's just one of those things that you take the uncertainty out of it and you go to the extra measures to be precautions and come back and hopefully the assets are still here", said Todd Barber, the co-owner of Duck and Dive Pub.
Duke Energy North Carolina President David Fountain said Florence is so massive and its potential for damage so extensive that people could be without power for a very long time. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.
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In South Carolina, local officials reported 300,000 had already evacuated the coast as of Wednesday. The governor added that a million or more people could be evacuated before the end of the storm.
"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said.
"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.
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. "Also, a little creepy".
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Many people in coastal communities have followed the mandatory evacuation orders, but some are vowing to stay put and ride it out. Those winds can heard howling at the Frying Pan, a decommissioned lighthouse 55km off the North Carolina coast.
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