Deal cited the storm's "forecasted southward track" in a statement declaring a state of emergency. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on the federal level Tuesday for the Carolinas and Virginia.
That reduced Florence from a Category 4 hurricane to a Category 1, but forecasters warned that the widening storm - and its likelihood of lingering around the coast day after day after day - will bring ocean water surging onto land and torrential rain. The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore. The steering currents that are moving the storm along are expected to collapse, leaving the center of the storm drifting over the same area for up to a week.
The governors of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and SC have also declared a state of emergency for their states in preparation for Florence's arrival.
This photo provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, as it threatens the U.S. East Coast. Residents in some parts of the Carolinas have been ordered to evacuate.
"The National Hurricane Center forecasts additional strengthening for Florence before it reaches the coastline of North Carolina and SC early Friday, Sept. 14", NASA wrote in the description of the video. Although the latest tracks suggest that the center of the storm will pass to our south, we'll still likely feel some effects as early as Thursday.
The impact of storm surge on the coast will depend on whether the storm's arrival coincides with high tide.
Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. Those areas are expected to experience tropical storm conditions and rainfall amount of up to 8 inches, and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands facing possible isolated amounts on 4 inches. The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge". It says the threat of freshwater flooding will increase in coming hours and days from the storm's heavy rains.
That system could develop into a tropical depression by Thursday night.