REUTERS/Randall HillGordon Roberts works to prepare his oceanfront home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.
The fierce winds of Hurricane Florence are weakening as it creeps closer to North Carolina but the impact of the enormous storm will still be catastrophic for millions of people.
Forecasters say the storm poses such a threat because it is expected to slow down and hover for almost two days over the Carolina coast, before dipping south towards Georgia.
While Florence is no longer considered a major hurricane, its reach has expanded, threatening residents from Georgia to Virginia. The researchers continuously track the hurricane as it makes landfall to collect data on the storm's speed, intensity and structure.
Forecast models predict Florence's center may slow to a crawl just off North Carolina early Friday and make a southwesterly turn - punishing the coast while moving perhaps only 2 to 3 miles per hour.
As of 11 p.m., the storm was centered 280 miles (455 kilometers) east southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and was moving northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).
Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear skies high pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI - and the more the Great Lakes one wins, the more southerly Florence will be.
"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.
Hurricane warnings continue in parts of eastern North Carolina and northern coastal SC.
Industrial waste, including toxic ash from power plants, could also be spread by flooding from the massive storm, which has caused mandatory evacuations of coastal areas in both Carolinas and Virginia, the AP reports.
"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety", Deal said. "I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas".
"But I'm staying", she said.
St. Helena Island near the South Carolina-Georgia line is used to riding out big storms - from one that killed an estimated 2,000 people in 1893 to Tropical Storm Irma a year ago. It's called Mother Nature. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.
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.
On another barrier island just below the Bogue Banks, Steve Harrigan reported live from North Topsail Beach, where visitors and residents were largely heeding warnings from Gov. Roy Cooper (D-N.C.) to evacuate.
Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.
For the first time since since 2008, the Atlantic has for named storms simultaneously.
"This storm will bring in more rain that Hurricane Matthew did", said FOX8 Meteorologist Emily Byrd.