However, a Cat 2 storm's wind speed is "extremely risky", according to the National Hurricane Center, capable of ripping trees from the ground, wreaking major roof damage on homes and causing power outages that may last weeks and affect three million households. "Flood waters are very risky". It is now at Category 1.
Packing 105 miles per hour wind, Florence is still expected to make landfall early Friday near Wilmington, N.C. It is expected to slowly move west through central SC by Sunday morning. "Please keep that in mind", and consider leaving soon, Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said midmorning Thursday.
In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged them to stay in safer locations despite forecast changes showing Florences path largely missing the state.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said, 'The time to prepare is nearly over.
A North Carolina TV news station has evacuated its building due to rising waters from Hurricane Florence.
Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren, of Savannah, Georgia, crashes into waves in the surf bolstered by the incoming Hurricane Florence on the south beach of Tybee Island, Georgia. "There is overwash but nothing we are not used to", she said. "I've got four cats inside the house".
"But we can't replace us so we chose to come here".
It was located about 85 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 145 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning".
Heavy rainbands with tropical-storm-force winds spreading across the Outer Banks, North Carolina, and coastal southeastern North Carolina.
Wind and the tidal surge will be the biggest issues for airports in the coastal Carolinas, FlightAware's Orsi said.
It was causing a life-threatening storm surge in parts of eastern North Carolina.
A flash-flood watch remains in effect.
Hurricane Florence, now a Category 2 storm, is slowly approaching the USA coast, and the storm's massive fury is on full display in video footage taken from the International Space Station. The Outer Banks are experiencing wind gusts over 30 miles per hour and rain from the outermost bands has begun to fall in coastal areas of both North and SC.
Boeing evacuated several new 787-10 Dreamliner jets from its factory in North Charleston, South Carolina, to protect them from the storm.
Duke Energy, the nations No. 2 power company, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.
Rainfall will accumulate near 2 feet in North Carolina.
"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said.
"The police chief was talking to in Atlantic beach was saying he has just never seen anything like this". "I charged the batteries of my electronic devices, I have beers and video games".