Florence is projecting hurricane-force winds outward up to 80 miles from its center; tropical-storm-force winds are swirling outward up to 195 miles away.In addition to the hurricane's obvious risks, the National Weather Service says, "A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday".
Duke Energy officials say Florence will knock out power to an estimated 1 million to 3 million customers in North and SC.
ESRI created a tracker to estimate just how many people would be affected by the storm's path given key demographic data from the area inside the error cone. "It's a big one", he said at the White House. "So I don't really want to take no chances on it".
Next week, when Florence has finally passed the Carolinas and moved into the Ohio Valley, the rain will have been the big story. "While we can't attribute this hurricane exclusively to climate change, we do expect these types of intense hurricanes to happen more often as the world warms".
Wake County schools are closed Thursday and Friday along with numerous other schools in North Carolina. Because the storm was so strong earlier in the week, it built up a wall of water which will push inland as the storm surge.
Hurricane Florence has changed course, according to the latest weather models.
The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".
Navy sends ships out to sea ahead of Florence
The other storms Tropical Storm Isaac and Tropical Storm Helene are both expected to become hurricanes Sunday or Monday. It is too early to know the exact path the storm will take but it could hit land on Thursday, the centre added.
The storm was heading for the coast of North and SC but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south.
"We will experience power outages, infrastructure damages, there will be homes damaged".
SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.
North Carolina has roughly 2,100 industrial-scale pork farms containing more than 9 million hogs.
At 8:00 pm (0000 GMT), the eye of the storm was 335 miles (540 kms) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).
"If you aren't under evacuation orders, now's the time to finish preparations and get ready to hunker down", Cooper said. "With the storm expected to linger, power restoration work could take weeks instead of days".
Residents near coastal areas have been given evacuation warnings, although Raleigh is a bit inland so Weaver and her family are going to remain at home to wait out the storm.
If anyone left out there doubts Florence's sheer capacity to wreak havoc in the coming days, this NOAA satellite image (from former NASA scientist and Professor Marshall Shepherd) should do the convincing.