"It's too soon to rule out any possibilities", Stenson said "Hurricane Irma is a risky storm and its projected path could put SC in harm's way". The day before, forecasters had predicted the storm would slice through Florida, cut up the east coast of Florida and plunge deep into Georgia or SC.
All residential halls at Savannah State University will close no later than Saturday morning and the entire campus will close at noon Saturday, officials told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "We encourage GPA staff and our neighbors to heed Governor Deal's warning and evacuate ahead of the storm".
This category of storm could put down power lines and cause some roof damage to buildings.
Though it is still too early to determine what, if any, direct impacts the North Carolina coast could see from Irma, Hatteras and Ocracoke Islanders are urged to make their preparations now, and watch for potentially unsafe surf and rip current conditions.
At 5 a.m. Thursday, Irma was still a Category 5 storm, with top sustained winds of 180 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. Details will depend on the latest forecasts, he said, but a "full coastal evacuation" is possible.
Hurricane Irma, a powerful Category Five storm, is expected to make landfall over the weekend in southern Florida, where evacuations have also been ordered, and move up the coast towards Georgia.
"We're not going to go out and drag someone out of their home if they don't want to leave", Deal said.
Following a recommendation from Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) officials and local Emergency Management Agencies, Gov. Nathan Deal is expanding his emergency declaration to include 24 additional counties, with a total of 30 counties now included in a state of emergency.
"There will be no other evacuations for other counties", McMaster said.
Earlier Friday, McMaster rescinded a portion of an executive order issued Thursday calling on health care facilities and nursing homes to evacuate from coastal counties. They have requested a FEMA incident management team to expedite any federal assets that may be needed to respond to the storm.
Gov. Ray Cooper declared a statewide emergency Wednesday afternoon.
So, what should residents of the Cape Fear expect out of this storm?
Those watching the forecast are reminded to not focus on the exact forecast track since strong winds and heavy rainfall extend well away from the center, NWS cautioned.
Schools will be also be closed Monday and Tuesday in some or all counties, McMaster said. The company has called in 650 line workers from other states and has been stockpiling equipment like poles, wires, insulators and hardware, in case they become necessary.