He added: "This is a very unsafe storm". Tropical storm-force winds extend outward for up to 195 miles. Florence is now about 110 east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
In Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina, Mikey Zalloum of Uncle Mikey's Brick Oven Pizza sweated as he worked feverishly to make pies Thursday night.
Severe inland flooding is also forecast for the Palmetto State, which is expected to see Florence drift through its Pee Dee, Midlands and Upstate regions on Saturday and Sunday. "And you don't need power to sling booze", said owner Eli Ellsworth.
Despite all the warnings from numerous authorities, some residents say are planning to ride out the storm. "Flash flooding is going to be a big issue soon - certainly catastrophic".
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"Power outages will linger the longest and cause the most trouble", Abrams says.
Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday at 100 miles per hour (170 km per hour) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 mph (224 kph) earlier this week when it was classified a Category 4 storm.
Here is the newest information on Tropical Storm Florence as it lands on the East Coast. "Doing so will place your life and the lives of first responders in harm's way", said Col. Glenn McNeill, commander of the N.C. State Highway Patrol.
The family is hoping for the best, given the potential threats the hurricane poses to lives and properties. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions", the hurricane center briefing said.
Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds. "The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline".
Several shelters have opened and officials have said they believed most people took warnings seriously and have left the region or sought shelter.