Hurricane Florence, on track to become the first Category 4 storm to make a direct hit on North Carolina in six decades, howled closer to shore on Wednesday, as schools and factories were being shuttered and authorities ordered more than 1 million people in the region to evacuate.
Up to 1.7 million people have now been ordered to leave their homes as the U.S. braces for Hurricane Florence.
Packing maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour (225 km per hour), Florence's trajectory showed its center most likely to strike the southern coast of North Carolina by Friday, the National Hurricane Center said.
Forecasts project the center of Florence to make landfall around the South and North Carolina border on Friday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane. The track continues to having it make landfall anywhere from SC to portions of Virginia.
Another joker said: 'Looks like tropical storm Floyd has penetrated Florence, we will be having a baby shower for the little sprinkle that's due in 9 months'.
Three college football games with Top 25 teams have been called off: East Carolina at No. 11 Virginia Tech, No. 15 West Virginia at NC State and No. 18 Central Florida at North Carolina.
At 5 a.m., the storm was centered 575 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph.
By Saturday, total rainfall could accumulate to 20 inches (51 centimetres) - or even 30 inches in places - in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, the NHC said.
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Millions prepare as Hurricane Florence approaches Southeast coast of the U.S.
If the latest forecast holds, Florence will strike farther north on the East Coast than any other Category 4 hurricane in history. The storm was about 880 miles east of the Lesser Antilles - a region still recovering from last year's powerful Hurricane Maria.
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"There is still time, but not a lot of time", said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management.
Michael Kennedy, an engineer at Boeing, said he planned to leave for his parents' home in Atlanta, Georgia.
Hurricane Irma destroyed Kathy Griffin's house in Florida a year ago, and it could be days before she finds out whether Florence smashed her fifth-story condominium in Wrightsville Beach, where authorities said utilities could be out for days or weeks.
"They told me to bring a pillow and blanket", Whisler said.
"Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighbourhood and making sure my neighbours are fine, because nobody can get in here".
Charleston, resident William Belli said he would not be among those joining the exodus.
President Donald Trump is urging those in the path of Hurricane Florence to act now to "get out of its way". "Not anxious in the least". "I will enjoy the quiet", he said.
Henry McMaster lifted the mandatory evacuation order for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties Tuesday morning. It was a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm but was expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, which means winds of 157 miles per hour or higher.