The storm, which is poised to affect millions this week in the southeastern USA, is "expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall" to North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, and parts of the Mid-Atlantic states, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Hurricane Florence, a powerful Category 4 storm, could stall upon reaching the Carolina coast and make a slight shift south toward SC once it makes landfall, becoming "a major flooding event", according to Fox News Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean.
"Forecasts generally project the storm to make landfall between northern SC and North Carolina's Outer Banks as a strong Category 3 on Thursday, although shifts in the track are possible and storm impacts will expand great distances beyond where landfall occurs".
The National Hurricane Center says Florence is now lashing the North Carolina coast with hurricane -force winds and a life-threatening storm surge. 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". The steering currents that are moving the storm along are expected to collapse, leaving the center of the storm drifting over the same area for up to a week.
All eyes are on Hurricane Florence as it barrels towards the Carolinas. But forecasters say there's an increased chance for tropical storm winds to reach Savannah. Florence is stronger, so you should at least be prepared for some power outages and tree damage even if the storm does not come near us.
About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said.
Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm but it is still considered an extremely risky and life-threatening storm.
It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. In South Carolina, close to the Georgia line, Beaufort County emergency chief Neil Baxley told residents they need to prepare again for the worst just in case.
"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.
The East Coast isn't the only area facing the brunt of a storm.