This system, when it gets to the coast, is only going to be moving about three miles per hour.
More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.
NOAA is urging people not to mistake the downgrade for a lessened threat, with flight director Jack Parrish warning residents to be as safe as they can. So as you can see, they're forecasting a major landfalling storm - Category 3 or 4 storm at landfall. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely risky storm for rain and storm surge.
With South Carolina's beach towns now more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.
Tim Bowen said nearby cities like Kinston and Goldsboro are more inland, but have a history of severe flooding and the situation might be even worse for evacuees.
Storm surges up to 3.9 meters (13 feet), the possibility of tornados and nearly a meter of rain in some areas of North and SC were expected when Hurricane Florence makes landfall late Thursday. As the storm moves inland, Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland will also be in peril.
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In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland.
"In 12 or 18 hours, they may be saying different things all over again", he said. This is just the beginning of what should be a catastrophic storm, with tens of thousands of structures expected to be flooded before it's all said and done.
The storm's surge, the rise in sea water above normally dry land at the coast, could reach up to 13 feet at peak.
"I don't care if this goes down to a Category 1", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said on Thursday. When fierce winds keep up for a long time, homes are "going to start to deteriorate". One North Carolina woman packed flowers to leave on her son's grave. Although there isn't consensus over how warming ocean temperatures might affect the total number of hurricanes we see each year, scientists agree a warming climate will lead to more intense storms that bring more rain.
And it led to mixed signals from officials in SC, whose governor had canceled mandatory evacuation for several coastal counties.
"Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye", German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted.
'Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you'. But if you're interested in seeing what the storm looks like when it approaches, check out the webcams listed below.
A new National Hurricane Center map predicting the likelihood of tropical storm-force winds stretches from northern Florida to eastern Kentucky and OH, and even up to the New York City area - although there's only a 5% to 10% chance of those conditions stretching that far north. The four storms in the Atlantic come as another one in the Pacific is hitting Hawaii.