Hurricane Helene is moving north, where it's expected to become a tropical storm Thursday.
With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.
Hurricane Florence is bigger than the state of North Carolina and four times larger than Ohio. A few hearty locals gathered at Cape Fear Wine and Beer pub in downtown Wilmington. "We just need to figure out how to make it through". "We've prepared all our supplies at home and frankly, we were bored".
"It's going to be bad", said Woody White, a county commissioner.
Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation?
A high-surf advisory is issued when breaking wave action poses or is expected to pose a threat to life and property within the surf zone.
"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were already inundated with water.
The storm is moving northwest at 10 miles per hour (17 kph), the NHC said.
The storm's center was about 50 miles south of Morehead City at around 11 p.m. EST (0300 GMT Friday).
More than 10 million people are in the crosshairs of Hurricane Florence as storm force winds move within hours of battering the USA east coast.
Hurricane and tropical storm watches have been posted for several Caribbean islands as a weakening Tropical Storm Isaac continues its trek toward the Leeward and Windward Islands.
At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.
The wide storm weakened to a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday and forecasters expect it to weaken further as it nears the shore.
In addition, preparing for hurricane-force winds is different than for storm surge, he said. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachians, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Tropical Storm Florence dumped "epic" amounts of rain on North and SC as it trudged inland on Saturday, knocking out power and causing at least eight deaths as flood waters that have devastated many communities kept rising.
Despite pleas from officials, some residents rejected calls to evacuate.
Port of Wilmington, North Carolina, extended operating hours for trains and trucks to clear cargo containers from the complex. Instead, they drove 150 miles (240 km) inland to his mother's house in Durham.