By Friday evening, the center of the storm had moved to eastern SC, about 15 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
Leaves, branches and other debris surround and cover a auto during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S. on Friday. It hit the coast as a Category 1 storm with 90 miles per hour maximum sustained winds, the NWS said.
Yesterday, the European Space Agency released a short video of astronauts aboard the space station watching the storm out of the cupola armed with powerful cameras to capture its giant knot of storm clouds.
Ken Graham, the NHC's director, warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path.
About150 people were awaiting rescue in New Bern, N.C. early Friday morning, and multiple news outlets report some 60 people had to be evacuated from a motel in Jacksonville, N.C. overnight after it sustained structural damage as the Category 1 hurricane made landfall.
She estimated 441,000 people have already evacuated because of the storm.
As of 6 a.m., Florence was 10 miles (20 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
There is really nowhere for the water to go.
Billy Sample, a resident stuck in the town of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, said Friday night: "The height of the storm didn't feel as bad as it is now".
Volvo halts production in SC as hurricane closes in
After that point, it would be hard for people in the storm's path to either finish preparations or flee affected areas. The Atlantic reports, "Since records began, only 10 major hurricanes have made landfall around the Carolinas".
The barrier island of Emerald Isle is under water, with ocean waves rolling in over a six-foot storm surge and crashing into homes.
More than 1.7 million people evacuated this week, leaving behind homes, schools and precious belongings.
The NHC said hurricane-force winds extended outward 35 miles (55 kms) from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 170 miles (280 kms) out.
The New Bern Police Department tweeted early Thursday evening "City of New Bern officials are encouraging all residents to shelter in place due to Hurricane Florence". "Significant river flooding is expected as a result of excessive rainfall across area hydrologic basins".
It's about the water, not the wind, with Hurricane Florence making an extended stay along the North Carolina coast. They had heeded officials' warnings that the storm was treacherous, with record-setting rains and storm surges not seen in North Carolina in decades.
New Bern resident Latasha Jones is one of the more fortunate ones. Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees. At least four people have died, and authorities fear the toll will go higher as the tropical storm crawls westward Saturday across SC. State Sen. Danny Britt, R, put out a call on Facebook for volunteers to fill the sandbags and, with the help of 40 members of the National Guard, dam a railway channel that has been problematic during floods. Some parts of New Bern could be flooded with a possible 9-foot storm surge as the Category 2 hurricane approaches the United States.
The storm's arrival brought a 105 miles per hour wind gust at the NWS office about 7 a.m. Friday, said meteorologist Jordan Baker.
Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.
Donald Trump was to visit hurricane-hit zones "early to the middle of next week", the White House said, "once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts".
"These are folks who chose to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.