The National Hurricane Center's best guess was that Florence would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line, then push its rainy way westward with a potential for catastrophic inland flooding.
North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland governors have declared states of emergency.
The storm position is still to be resolved but the majority of solution's are in good agreement over southeast North Carolina at this time.
Steady streams of vehicles full of people and belongings flowed inland Tuesday as Gov. Roy Cooper tried to convince everyone on North Carolina's coast to flee. "Everyone was sold out", she said.
Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 300 miles (485 kilometres) ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swath from SC to OH and Pennsylvania could get deluged.
About 300,000 people have been evacuated from South Carolina, McMaster said. "We are planning for a hard impact of a Category 4 storm".
Coastal residents along the Carolinas encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared its coast with winds and drenching rain that could last for days. Tropical storm-force winds - 39 to 73 mph (63 to 118 km/h) - further extend Florence's reach; these winds surround the eye to a distance of 150 miles (240 km) from the center, according to the report. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.
Florence's new eye appears to be stable enough that the storm is unlikely to undergo another eye-wall-replacement cycle; this means that Florence can continue to build in power, which could spell trouble for the US states that lie in the storm's path, Stewart said in the report.
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- Hurricane Florence has slightly weakened to 125 miles per hour Wednesday afternoon. It's going to destroy infrastructure.
One trusted computer model, the European simulation, predicted more than 45 inches (115 centimetres) in parts of North Carolina.
"Unlike Puerto Rico they have very strong power companies", he said of the Carolinas and Virginia.
"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said.
Rain measured in feet is "looking likely", he said.
At least 250,000 more people were due to be evacuated from the northern Outer Banks in North Carolina on Tuesday after more than 50,000 people were ordered on Monday to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of the state's barrier islands. Typically, local governments in the state make the call on evacuations. "It's a big one", he said.
A storm covering enormous area, to drench and lash more people.
"Everyone who is staying here is either a real old-timer, someone who doesn't know where would be better, or someone involved in emergency operations one way or another", said Fox.