The storm's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 193km/h, before Florence was downgraded from a Category 4.
Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and risky rainfall event Friday-Sunday".
"The primary fuel for hurricanes is a warm sea surface, which is getting warmer with climate change", said Dr Kelly McCusker, a climate scientist at the independent economic research firm Rhodium Group. This would put us in a swath of maybe up to 4-8 inches of rain from Friday night to early Monday evening and could linger beyond that as the remnants cast off to our west.
Mr Cooper's warnings were echoed by his SC counterpart, Henry McMaster, who stated that emergency services may not be able to reach residents if they remain in areas where evacuation orders have been issued.
Groups of fearless storm troopers could be seen enjoying the many empty beaches across SC.
Hurricane Florence continues to barrel towards the East Coast. "While we can't attribute this hurricane exclusively to climate change, we do expect these types of intense hurricanes to happen more often as the world warms". A storm is classified Category 3 if its winds are recorded at 111 miles per hour or more.
Shepard Smith and Flaherty said reports showed storm surge from the system is likely to be felt dozens of miles inland, including along the Neuse River Basin - which stretches inward from New Bern toward Rocky Mount and Nashville, N.C. SC announced the decision on Wednesday.
The state has set up the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund at rebuild.nc.gov to accept hurricane relief donations, Cooper said.
The first tropical storm-force winds of at least 63 kph were forecast to hit the coast on Thursday. "We just need to figure out how to make it through".
The intensity of the wind and rain we'll see here is dependent on the exact track of the storm.
TRT World's Nicole Johnston is on the coast in Wilmington, North Carolina, where people are preparing for the worst. It's a horrifying spectacle to behold, and the hurricane hasn't even struck land yet.