WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC - SEPTEMBER 12: The outer bands of Hurricane Florence are visible as the storm approaches, on September 12, 2018 in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. "Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".
Maximum water heights caused by Hurricane Florence's storm surge as predicted by the ADCIRC computer model.
It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.
Prisoners were affected, too.
More than 80,000 people are already without power, and forecasters have warned that conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore in the early hours of Friday morning.
"With a hurricane, you have plenty of warning, but it's like "should I go or should I stay" and you're never sure, but when they said mandatory evacuation, I thought it's time to get out", said Lynn Morgan.
Around midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.
On Thursday evening, Florence's forward movement was just 5mph.
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Six feet (1.8m) of storm surge could carry large objects like cars underwater and leave lower levels structures submerged in water, according to Dr Postel.
A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 metres) high as Florence churned toward shore.
Meteorologist Erika Navarro delivered the report for The Weather Channel online, demonstrating the "life-threatening" possible aftermath of Hurricane Florence when it hits the Carolina coast.
As of Thursday morning, forecast models showed the storm bringing more rain than originally thought - officials now predict 35 inches of rain will fall in a two-day period as Florence, now a Category 2 storm with 110 miles per hour sustained winds, will stall over Wilmington after making landfall early Friday morning.
Hurricane Florence has officially hit the North Carolina coast, according to an 8 p.m. briefing by the National Hurricane Center.
The latest forecast track issued by the National Hurricane Center brings the western portion of the storm, potentially, to parts of Middle Georgia.
Two detention facilities in SC that are within government-mandated evacuation zones will not relocate inmates ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall there.
"We'll operate without power; we have candles". The biggest problem will likely be mass power outages, he says. And while he hopes for the best, he's chosen to wait out the storm at home so he can be around to help his community if need be once the storm passes.
"We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way, '" she said. "We have a safe basement and generator that comes on automatically".