The official track has Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast from Thursday night until landfall Saturday morning or so, then veering south through SC and Georgia into Monday.
Florence exploded into a potentially catastrophic hurricane Monday as it closed in on North and SC, carrying winds up to 140 miles per hour (220 kph) and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States later this week. In Myrtle Beach, S.C., and nearby areas, the surge could hit 6-9 feet.
Timing: When Will Hurricane Florence Strike?
A satellite image showing Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic Ocean this week. But forecasters say there's an increased chance for tropical storm winds to reach Savannah.
As of 8 p.m., the storm was centered 335 miles (540 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).
Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less unsafe, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion.
Sand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach, N.C., September 12, 2018, as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast.
Damaging hurricane-force winds are likely along portions of the coasts of SC and North Carolina, and a Hurricane Warning is in effect. Authorities in Chatham County, Georgia, which borders SC and includes the historic port city of Savannah, urged residents who feel unsafe "to evacuate as they see fit".
More than 1.7 million people were warned to evacuate and get out of the way of the "life-threatening" storm's path.
Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte. "We just need to figure out how to make it through".
"We will experience power outages, we will have infrastructure damage, there will be homes damaged, there will be debris on the roads - this will be a storm that creates and causes massive damage to our country", announced Jeffrey Byard, Response and Recovery administrator for FEMA.
"As you know most loss of life and threats to life are from the surge", he said.
The NHC has issued Hurricane Warnings from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina. Most other beachgoers were long done. "You feel like you should have already left".