Hurricane Florence deserves all the names it's being called as it threatens to cause historic flooding, blow catastrophic winds and idle for days over the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic.
The National Weather Service said 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches.
Faced with new forecasts that showed a more southerly threat, Georgia's governor joined his counterparts in Virginia and North and SC in declaring a state of emergency, and some residents who had thought they were safely out of range boarded up their homes.
- President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged those living in the path of Hurricane Florence to comply with all evacuation orders and emergency instructions.
Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear skies high pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI - and the more the Great Lakes one wins, the more southerly Florence will be. Florence might not be the only massive storm the East Coast will have to contend with over the course of the next several days.
"The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves", the NWS report said.
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The storm was heading for the coast of the two states but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south.
By early Saturday morning, Florence is expected to have weakened to a tropical storm, and by early Sunday, it will be a tropical depression.
As of Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.
Amtrak canceled its passenger rail service south of Washington, D.C., and there were almost 600 cancellations of flights arriving or departing from major airports in the Carolinas. The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore.
The numbers are expected to soar as the storm's winds and torrential rains sweep over more land.
Duke Energy, the nation's No. 2 power company, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for week.
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Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty.
Florence has it all: Hot ocean temperatures that fuel hurricanes.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it closed the ports of Wilmington and Moorehead City in North Carolina and restricted port operations in Charleston, South Carolina.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of the state in several metres of water. Some of those who stayed went to shelters while others stuck it out in their homes.Maysie Baumgardner, 7, and her family sheltered at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington as Florence filled the streets with floodwaters. "We just need to figure out how to make it through".
Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird.
Early Thursday Florence was about 235 miles (378 kilometers) east southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 280 miles (450 kilometers) east southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
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"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said. "You feel like you should have already left".