Florence weakened slightly to a Category 3 storm on a five-step scale but had maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (201 km per hour) as of 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), down from 130 mph earlier in the day. Millions of people have evacuated to inland communities as the storm churns westward.
Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.
Florence should continue losing strength as it menders along the coast, weakening further as the storm travels across inland SC on Saturday, the weather service said.
Rain begins to fall as the outer bands of Hurricane Florence make landfall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on 13 September 2018.
"I'm not approaching Florence from fear or panic", he said. Numerous flight cancellations and delays Thursday involved arrivals or departures at airports in Florence's path. "Not only that, but the wind field actually expands as the center of circulation starts to lose some intensity, you'll start to get hurricane force winds further out from the storm". "Life-threatening storm surge flooding, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are still expected".
Officials say people refusing to evacuate could end up alone, drenched and in the dark, as rescue crews won't go out to help in winds above 80 km/h.
"You put your life at risk by staying", Cooper said. President Trump has declared an emergency in the three states and says the government is "as ready as anybody has ever been".
NASA itself uploaded a video of Hurricane Florence that was taken by the high-definition camera located outside the International Space Station. Its maximum sustained winds dropped slightly from 110 miles per hour earlier Thursday to 105 miles per hour, but the storm remains a Category 2 hurricane that is expected to cause widespread catastrophic damage.
Florence is one of four named storms in the Atlantic.
Florence's weakening as it neared the coast created tension between some who left home and authorities who anxious that the storm could still be deadly.
Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday at 100mph as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140mph earlier this week when it was classified as a Category 4.
"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", said Linda Smith, 67, a retired nonprofit director. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other risky conditions", the hurricane center briefing said.
Virginia and Georgia are also under states of emergency, but it's North and SC that are positioned to suffer the worst of the storm's wrath.
Leuttic warned that high winds are unsafe, but it's really the heavy rainfall that poses an even higher risk.
"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said.