In a 8 a.m. update, National Hurricane Center forecasters said sustained winds dropped slightly to 130 miles per hour but restrengthening is expected to begin later today, with the storm likely to make landfall along the North or SC coast by Thursday.
While Florence could punch the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since 1954, New England isn't expected to see much of an impact from the storm.
The life-threatening storm is now located about 905 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and is moving at a speed of 16 mph. It is expected to strengthen and possibly become a Category 5 storm Tuesday before closing in on North or SC on Thursday.
Since reliable record-keeping began more than 150 years ago, North Carolina has been hit by only one Category 4 hurricane: Hazel, with 130 miles per hour winds, in 1954. A hurricane watch was in effect for Edisto Beach, S.C., to Virginia's southern border, with the first hurricane-force winds arriving late Thursday.
South Carolina's governor ordered the state's entire coastline evacuated starting at noon Tuesday and predicted that 1 million people would flee as highways reverse directions.
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Officials in both North and SC are urging citizens to evacuate inland, especially those living in low-lying or coastal areas.
National Hurricane Center says swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast.
"Florence is expected to slow down and stall after landfall this will lead to catastrophic flooding in parts of North Carolina & Virginia", Panovich said.
Storm surges up to 12 feet along the coast and up to 30 inches of rain into next week will also threaten parts of SC and North Carolina in the coming days.
"Where should residents of "Zone A" evacuate to?"
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Hurricane Florence could cost the East Coast more than $170 billion and damage almost 759,000 homes and businesses, according to analytics firm CoreLogic. It might not leave, which means we're going to have some flooding.
Large swells along parts of the US East Coast will spawn risky surf and rip currents. Charlotte, North Carolina could take a direct hit, according to the National Weather Service. The forecast is for landfall to occur overnight Thursday into Friday morning.
"North Carolina faces three threats here".
"Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of SC and is going to go way inshore", McMaster said in a press conference.
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Hurricane Florence will likely damage thousands of vehicles from high winds and flooding, according to a Cox Automotive report published Tuesday.