Florence, now a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (209 km/h), was previously expected to travel north, up the North Carolina coast, after making landfall, according to the statement.
Hurricane Florence is blasting toward the Carolinas, carrying sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour and the threat of "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall", the National Hurricane Center says.
The National Hurricane Center says it's now expected to hit Wilmington and then veer west, taking it south of Charlotte.
Cooper, the governor of neighboring North Carolina, ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination, and parts of coastal Dare County.
"We will experience power outages, we will have infrastructure damage, there will be homes damaged, there will be debris on the roads - this will be a storm that creates and causes massive damage to our country", announced Jeffrey Byard, Response and Recovery administrator for FEMA. Even from a distance, Florence is expected to bring more sustained easterly winds to the region.
Hurricane Florence is now expected to head more directly west after making landfall, crossing through SC.
Although North Carolina is still expected to see the worst of the storm, a more southern track would mean that states further north - like Virginia - could be spared of some nasty weather.
Best-case scenario: 1-3 inches between Friday night and Sunday Worst-case scenario: 8-10 inches, maybe more in some areas, between Friday afternoon and Monday Most likely: 4-6 inches between Friday night and Sunday night.
Axios: "The ties between Hurricane Florence and climate change" - "Hurricane Florence is a unique Atlantic hurricane, projected to stall out after hitting land and forecast to dump upwards of 2 feet of rain on several states, much like Hurricane Harvey did in Texas a year ago".
A tropical storm watch was issued for north of the North Carolina-Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, Virginia, and the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort. The storm is now about 950 miles from the Carolina coast line, but moving in that direction at about 15 mph.
In addition to wind-driven storm surges of seawater, Florence could dump up to 35 inches (89 cm) in some spots as it moves inland, forecasters said.
Sharp doesn't like to compare hurricanes because each one is different, but he did note that Florence is a stronger storm than Matthew, which hit the state in 2016.
Michael Kennedy, an engineer at Boeing, said he planned to leave on Tuesday for his parents' home in Atlanta, Georgia. Some 7,000 guard members are ready to mobilize in North Carolina, while 1,100 will be activated in SC.
The state of North Carolina is preparing for a major storm.