The National Hurricane Center said the storm would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC, as well as up to 10 inches (25 cm) in southwestern Virginia.
Florence, now a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (209 km/h), was previously expected to travel north, up the North Carolina coast, after making landfall, according to the statement.
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The remainder of SC and North Carolina into southwest Virginia could see 6 to 12 inches, with some isolated areas seeing 15 inches.
Hurricane-force winds now extend up to 80 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 195 miles from the center of the storm.
Forecasters said conditions will continue to deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.
North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC.
State Transportation Department Secretary Christy Hall said Thursday that an estimated 421,000 residents had left the coast. The gradually slowing but still life-threatening storm is moving northwest at 15 miles per hour (24 kph). Surges could reach 9' to 13' on the southeast North Carolina coast between Cape Fear and Cape Lookout, including the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds and their rivers, and 6' to 9' on the adjacent stretches of coast.
The full impact of the storm surge on the coast will depend on whether the storm's arrival coincides with high tide.
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Storm surge, the massive mound of water that builds up and comes ashore during a hurricane, is often the deadliest and most destructive threat from the storms.
The numbers are expected to soar as the storm's winds and torrential rains sweep over more land. It ranged 59 to 83 feet Wednesday morning.
Yes, because it's bringing a voluminous amount of rain, and by lingering it creates worse flooding.
Florence, for her part, shares similarities with Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Houston on August 25 of 2017 as a Category 4 hurricane and dumped record-setting amounts of rain. Tropical Storm Olivia is approaching the Hawaiian islands, the Philippines are bracing for the powerful typhoon Mangkhut, and Tropical Storm Isaac is nearing the Leeward Islands.
A "storm surge watch" is issued when flooding is possible, while a "warning" is issued when flooding is expected.
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.
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From Thursday night through Sunday morning, CNN reported that Florence would travel only 150 miles, or slower than the average walking pace of 2-3 mph.
Follow our live updates page for the latest on the storm.
Another disturbance is swirling around in the Gulf of Mexico. The NHC is encouraging officials in northeastern Mexico, Texas and Louisiana to monitor its progress.