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. Due to improvements, farmers say they are better prepared than they were 20 years ago when Hurricane Floyd, a Category 2 storm, hit North Carolina in 1999.
On Wednesday morning, the storm was about 550 miles from the Carolina coast and remains a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds.
"Today's the day", Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday.
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.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam joined the chorus of warnings, and issued an evacuation order for about a quarter million residents in flood-prone coastal areas, beginning Tuesday morning.
The Michigan-sized storm is set to linger for days and cause catastrophic flooding with up to four feet of rain and 13-foot storm surges.
This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and SC but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend.
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SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.
Deal's declaration Wednesday covers comes as the National Weather Service's storm forecast shows a chance that Florence's track might turn toward the southwest as it approaches the Carolinas later this week.
Hurricane Florence has changed course, according to the latest weather models.
Florence, it added, is also expected to strengthen even more over the next several days before it is forecast to hit the southeastern United States on Friday morning at around 8 a.m. local time, September 14.
"So I don't really want to take no chances on it". Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.
"The biggest thing is you're always anxious about yourself and friends and family - and whether they'll have a place to come back to", he said.
The new trajectory means the storm will idle at sea for longer, creating even heavier and prolonged rains and storm surges for the Carolinas and possibly northern parts of Georgia. "Also, a little creepy".