The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Florence's maximum sustained winds had eased slightly to 115 miles per hour (185 kph) and it had been downgraded to a Category 3 storm from a Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
Florence exploded into a potentially catastrophic hurricane Monday as it closed in on North and SC, carrying winds up to 140 miles per hour (220 kph) and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States later this week.
South Carolina's governor ordered the state's entire coastline evacuated at noon Tuesday and predicted that 1 million people would flee as highways reverse directions.
"We've had our lessons".
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.
"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachians, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.
A storm covering enormous area, to drench and lash more people.
'I can't emphasise enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding with this storm'. "With time, the wind pushes the water into every nook and cranny you can think of", Graham said. The map below shows the greatest impacts in North Carolina and along the eastern coastline, as far south as Charleston and as far north as New Jersey. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different.
"Water, generators, all the people here, we have everything we need", he said. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.
The "Hurricane Hunter" is specially equipped and operated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to fly through storms to collect data, playing a major role in hurricane forecasting.
"If I need to evacuate I can go to my son's house" in North Carolina, Sparks said as he carted a load of water bottles to his auto.
According to analytics firm CoreLogic, the hurricane could wreak more than $170billion (£130billion) in havoc and damage almost 759,000 homes and businesses. Most other beachgoers were long done. "Also, a little creepy".