The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places.
As for people staying put, the authorities used to advise that people get three days' worth of supplies, but now it's best to get two weeks' worth of supplies, Sue Anne Bell, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of MI, told Live Science.
"North Carolina, my message is clear", a grim Gov. Roy Cooper said at a briefing today.
The East Coast isn't the only area facing the brunt of a storm.
"The longer it stays, the more wind, the more rain".
"I rode out Hugo", Miller said of a 1989 hurricane that caused widespread damage. "The biggest hazard that we're anxious about is storm surge", Long said.
The lingering storm could bring days of heavy rains, which could spark intense floods from SC to Virginia.
National Weather Service forecasters said the storm would roam along the coast for at least two more days before reaching Columbia, South Carolina, early Sunday. But a computer simulation known as the European model predicts some places could get 45 inches.
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"There's still uncertainty on exactly how inland the hurricane does penetrate".
"It does look a bit similar to Harvey in a sense that it goes roaring into shore and then comes to a screeching stop", said MIT meteorology professor and hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel.
Florence is unusual in that it is aiming at the Carolinas from the east.
Despite newer forecasts showing the storm turning south, it has the potential to be devastating for the coast and inland areas.
Flight Director Paul Flaherty is preparing to fly into Hurricane Florence for a fourth time, and said he hopes to bring back good news, but so far, there's been no signs of that from the sky.
After Florence makes landfall, that ridge, now over Washington and NY, will move east - but be replaced by another one forming over the Great Lakes that will likely keep the storm stuck, McNoldy said. Though about 9 million vehicles are in Florence's path, the area has only about 162 vehicles per square mile - less than half the figure in car-crazy Houston. North Carolina alone could get from 20 to 30 inches, with isolated spots possibly receiving 40 inches. But it's such a large storm that the rain will keep coming down in the region no matter where it wanders.
"Dangerous" Florence has maximum sustained winds of 130mph and will be a Category 4 storm when it makes landfall on Friday morning.
"Not much has changed since this morning", meteorologist Chris Fisher from the National Weather Service said.
The ocean waters that Florence is travelling over are about 2.7 degrees (1.5 degrees Celsius) warmer than normal, McNoldy said.