Florence's hurricane force winds now extends 80 miles from the center, while the tropical storm force winds reaches almost 200 miles, according to the National Hurricane Center.
"I mean this takes a long time to move through the Carolinas".
"The center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later today, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC in the hurricane warning area tonight and Friday, " the hurricane center said.
Rain bands with tropical-storm-force winds have moved onshore over the Outer Banks of North Carolina. "If you are on the coast, there is still time to get out safely". "Now it might be time for the exam", Baxley said.
In addition to the dangers the expected deluge of water poses, the hurricane center cautioned, "A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina beginning late Thursday morning".
It's unclear exactly how many people evacuated, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.
"And this is where I want to stay", Cook said.
The threat has sparked a rush of evacuation efforts in SC and North Carolina, with more than 1 million people urged to get out of Florence's way.
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Florence is becoming more of a threat to more people - now including some in Georgia - in more ways.
Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.
"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
He warned of "feet of rain not inches" in the Carolinas and Virginia.
Richard "Squirrel" Cook, who lives right off the ocean in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is not obeying Gov. Henry McMaster's mandatory evacuation order.
Emergency preparations in the region included activating 2,800 National Guard troops in North Carolina, stockpiling food, setting up shelters, switching traffic patterns so major roads led away from shore, and securing 16 nuclear power reactors in the Carolinas and Virginia. "Its a big one", he said at the White House. He adds, "Businesses in Myrtle Beach are to have operations ceased and secured by 5 this afternoon".
Monster storm Hurricane Florence is barreling closer to the coast of the Carolinas.
In Charleston, the city government said that after giving out 53,000 sandbags, "there is no longer any sand available at any city of Charleston location".
Officials in New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, have stockpiled enough food and water for 60,000 people for four days, along with more than 28,000 tarps.
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States up and down the East Coast have a great potential for severe weather. Forecasters say that the same type of storm surge expected earlier should still be expected.
Satellite images show Florence has maintained a distinct eye and is well-organized.
While max sustained winds have decreased the area of hurricane force winds has increased. "So Florence is kind of spreading out, becoming a much larger, more stable hurricane".
At a press conference Thursday morning, officials stressed that Hurricane Florence's wind speed may have fallen, but the danger has not. Massive rainfall is predicted, with totals of 20-30in (50-76cm) in coastal areas of the Carolinas and up to 40in in isolated areas.
The NHC notes that amount of rainfall would "produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding".
Hurricane-force winds now extend up to 80 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 195 miles from the center of the storm.
The shift in the projected track spread concern to areas that once thought they were relatively safe. That system could develop into a tropical depression by Friday. "It goes well inland".
"Disaster is at the doorstep and is coming in."
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