Hurricane Florence is continuing to move west-northwest and is still forecast to hit North Carolina and SC, bringing destructive storm surge, rains, and wind. "Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!"
"It is an extremely, dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.
Both of the Carolinas and Virginia ordered mandatory evacuations for some of their residents starting at noon Tuesday and over a million people are expected to flee. Highways will be converted to one-way evacuation routes away from the evacuation zones.
Volvo has temporarily halted production at its SC factory as Hurricane Florence approaches the southeast coast.
"The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely risky hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity", the hurricane center said.
At least 250,000 more people were due to be evacuated from the northern Outer Banks in North Carolina on Tuesday after more than 50,000 people were ordered on Monday to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of the state's barrier islands. At most risk for wind damage are buildings along the coast or in open areas that don't have a buffer of trees or other buildings to lessen the impact, said Spencer Rogers, a coastal engineering expert with N.C. Sea Grant.
The Miami-based center says the storm's center was located about 410 miles (660 kilometers) south of Bermuda and about 975 miles (1570 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
In a statement, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham called it "the sensible decision at this time" with Florence's projected path carrying the storm through the state.
Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and SC and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall on Friday, and its rains will take a heavy toll for kilometres inland, the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned on Tuesday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Prediction Center forecasts as much as 20 inches of rain, if not more, for parts of North Carolina.
Paula Matheson of Springfield, Oregon, got the full Southern experience during her 10-week RV vacation: hot weather, good food, handsome beaches and, now, a hurricane evacuation. "We know we can't play around with this", said Jennifer Oosterwyk, who owns the Sugar Britches boutique on Holden Beach and lives in nearby Wilmington.
He added: "The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you've ever seen".
"This is a huge storm", said Robert Woodward, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners.
Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday night.
"A west- northwestward to northwestward motion with a slight increase in forward speed are expected during the next couple of days". While wind damage is still ordinarily covered, insurers that were stung by storms such as Sandy in 2012, which swamped NY and New Jersey, have inserted clauses in their policies that limit coverage and set high deductibles, particularly when storms reach hurricane status.
- Winds could exceed 80 miles per hour from Thursday to Saturday.