There will be hurricane-force winds up to 80 miles from the centre of the storm, meteorologists say.
The storm is expected to be just offshore by Friday and is now a Category 3 storm with 125mph top sustained winds. "Does this mean we have much less to worry about?"
This is when Hurricane Florence is expected to be closest to us.
"All my staff are gone", Thompson said.
And it led to mixed signals from officials in SC, whose governor had canceled mandatory evacuation for several coastal counties.
The National Hurricane Centers best guess was that Florence would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line, then slog its rainy way westward with a potential for catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses and farm fields.
Flaherty said there is a small piece of good news, in that the "flow" in the southeastern quadrant of the storm has been reduced slightly. Although the latest tracks suggest that the center of the storm will pass to our south, we'll still likely feel some effects as early as Thursday.
Inland winds could lead to spotty power outages, but more extended outages lasting possibly for weeks are expected at the coast.
Panovich: The other interesting thing is in Charlotte our biggest impacts might be felt more Friday night into Saturday, and we will certainly see some wind on Friday but I think the rain may be kind of scattered about on Friday and the heavy stuff doesn't really move in until Saturday.
"This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective", University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said.
Florence was about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C., at 8 a.m. ET Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.
The incredible video, recorded on Monday, shows the Lockheed WP-3D Orion flying through the strong winds of the hurricane until it reaches the eerily calm eye.
When the National Hurricane Updates shared a map of the category four hurricane, dubbed "the storm of a lifetime", on Facebook, people were quick to compare the pink round-headed shape displaying the devastation to something a lot less serious. In Miami-Dade County, Florida, officials left almost 4,500 prisoners inside facilities during Hurricane Irma in 2017, even though multiple prison facilities in that county were demolished by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Florence is the most unsafe of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. State officials have said the inmates are safer in the prison than they would be in an evacuation.
"We have extra manpower on the road", Vest said.
Hurricane Florence has developed into a major storm over extremely warm water, Ginis said.
Industrial waste, including toxic ash from power plants, could also be spread by flooding from the massive storm, which has caused mandatory evacuations of coastal areas in both Carolinas and Virginia, the AP reports.