A NOAA buoy located about 100 miles northeast of Florence's eye recently reported a sustained wind of 53 mph (85 km/h) and a gust to 74 mph (119 km/h).
Forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia. President Trump said the hurricane is predicted to be one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in years as he warned residents to be prepared and to be careful.
When asked in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff P.J. Tanner said the school district must first evaluate how many teachers and staff evacuated ahead of the order.
Georgia's governor has declared a state of emergency, citing potential "changes in the storm's trajectory" as well as an influx of evacuees heading south from the Carolinas.
'It's coming straight for us': Canadians in Florence's path prepare for worst
Forecasts project the center of Florence to make landfall around the South and North Carolina border on Friday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.
Once the storm makes landfall, the threats are far from over. "But as this system comes in and makes landfall, during the weekend it's forecast to stall out, lose its strength and its steering currents, and drop copious amounts of rainfall".
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. Rather than pushing up toward western Virginia, the storm's center is now predicted to move across the middle of SC.
Another joker said: 'Looks like tropical storm Floyd has penetrated Florence, we will be having a baby shower for the little sprinkle that's due in 9 months'. Before it pummels the United States coastline, Florence could become close to a Category 5 storm - meaning winds could approach 157 miles per hour. Florence is now heading for ocean water with surface temperatures of around 85 degrees, meaning it will likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.
Hurricane Florence was expected to blow ashore late on Thursday or early Friday (local time), then slow down and wring itself out for days, unloading 300-600mm of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and massive pig farms.
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Hurricane-force winds will reach the Carolina coasts late Thursday or early Friday.
"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence", Deal said.
A search-and-rescue team is being deployed by FEMA from Montgomery County in Maryland to help in SC as the area braces for Hurricane Florence.
The Hurricane Florence forecast has gone from bad to worse
At this point, county and city agencies are operating at OPCON 3 as operations were ramped up a bit on Sunday morning. The hurricane could remain powerful as it passes over the United States mainland, the NHC warned on Monday morning.
By Saturday, total rainfall could accumulate to 20 inches (51 centimeters) - or even 30 inches in places - in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, the NHC said.