North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents to remain alert despite changing forecasts. "We're still going to have a Category 4 storm surge". Both North Carolina and SC are updating their lists of emergency shelters for people caught out by the storm.
SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.
Category 1 storms contain wind speeds from 74 to 95 miles per hour while winds associated with Category 2 hurricanes range from 96 to 110 miles per hour.
Computer simulations - especially the often star-performing European model - push the storm further south, even into SC and Georgia.
However, the hurricane's effect on the nationwide air-travel system will be less than feared if, as now forecast, Florence veers away from the American Airlines hub airport in Charlotte, and doesn't score a direct hit on Delta Air Lines' massive hub in Atlanta.
Despite the weakening, the effects would still be devastating in North Carolina.
He said he has been through this many times in his 15 years in the Myrtle Beach area and that "nothing is going to happen".
Duke Energy, the nation's 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. Hundreds of thousands of people have already evacuated.
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A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia and the USA capital Washington.
As of Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. Florence's heavy rains could cause an environmental disaster if waste from hog manure pits, coal ash dumps and other industrial sites washes into homes or threatens drinking water supplies.
How high the water rises depends on several factors, including the orientation of the storm with the coastline, the storm's intensity, size and speed of the storm, according to NOAA.
Elder relatives carry as much weight as meteorologists in a tight-knit community of slave descendants on the SC coast.
He said hurricane-force winds extend outward 130 km from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extend almost 322km out. But barber Josh Dais says the island's 5,000 residents now are trying to decide whether to flee ahead of Hurricane Florence.
Florence is one of four named storms in the Atlantic. She packed up what she could and took a ferry. Evacuees also loaded up their vehicles with extra gas cans, their pets, coolers filled with sandwich meat, family photographs and blankets.
Vicki Moulson, who teaches at a local community college in the Outer Banks, said she was planning to ride out the hurricane because she wants to be near her home and her friends.
And if Florence weren't enough, other storms out there are threatening people. They also have three dogs and three parrots. The couple said they would have had to travel too far inland to find a hotel that would have accepted their animals as guests.