Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 225km/h earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2.
With a storm surge warning in effect, the authorities urge people to prepare themselves for the disaster.
As the storm continues to track toward western North Carolina and upstate SC, heavy rains in the mountains could trigger mudslides due to the region's topography, Cline added.
Accuweather reported that its meteorologists "believe that the hurricane will stall and meander near the Carolina coast from Thursday night to Saturday". "This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective", University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said. "We just want prayers from everyone". "This is just a unusual bird".
It was forecast to make landfall mid-day Friday near Cape Fear, North Carolina, bringing up to 40 inches (1 metre) of rain, and storm surges as high as 13 feet (4 meters), the NHC said.
Storm surge is deadly. Tropical storm force winds extend up to 200 miles (320 kilometers) from the center.
Airlines cancelled almost 1,000 flights and counting.
Steering currents - around clear-weather high-pressure systems and stormy low-pressure systems - redirect hurricanes, with the clear-weather systems acting as walls that storms have to go around. Showers and storms will increase in activity as the day progresses.
Here is a list of cams from beaches and piers along the coast, and one in Charlotte.
Florence is headed straight for some of the most well-known military bases in the country.
Computer simulations - especially the often star-performing European model - push the storm further south, even into SC and Georgia.
Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks - a string of barrier islands - as the hulking storm closed in with 165km/h winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend. "So many weird/outlandish solutions - but that's what happens when the steering currents collapse".
We will have tropical storm force winds and rain and storm surge continues to be our main concern with extreme flooding.
Tesh, who works in information technology for UNC-Wilmington, said she and her husband have been ferrying valuables to her parents' house on the mainland in Wilmington, where they planned to ride out the storm. Tropical Storm Olivia has made landfall in the Hawaiian islands, the Philippines are bracing for the powerful typhoon Mangkhut, and Tropical Storm Isaac is nearing the Leeward Islands. The family is hoping for the best, given the potential threats the hurricane poses to lives and properties.