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Florence is a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour, and is forecast to approach the coastline of the Carolinas by Friday, the National Weather Service said.

Florence is forecast to remain a category 4 hurricane Wednesday and Thursday as it moves closer to the southeast coast of North Carolina.

Florence could then slowly move inland near the state line or some computer models suggest it may move down the SC coast before actually make landfall later in the weekend.

Coastal residents have already started leaving the shores and heading west inland, but many are finding empty gas pumps as gasoline stations are sold out of gas.

To whip up a monstrous storm like the one chugging for the Carolinas you need a handful of ingredients - and Florence has them all. The hurricane has weakened and stayed the same size throughout Wednesday, however, its total energy has increased, which would result in more storm surge for the Carolina coast.

Florence is expected to make landfall between Thursday and Friday.

Regardless of which scenario actually happens, Florence is a large hurricane and will affect much of North and SC.

The National Weather Service issued an ominous warning.

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NHC forecasts showed the effects of Florence would be widely felt, with tropical storm-force winds extending almost 300 miles across three states.

North Carolina officials evacuated long-term care facilities and hundreds of prisoners in vulnerable areas, and also closed state parks, museums and other attractions. Florence could bring life-threatening storm surges, up to 13 feet.

Even so, the NHC does not say sustained winds above 40 miles per hour are likely in North Florida, giving it less than a 20 percent probability in the forecast map update at 2 a.m. today. Sound unlikely? It's the same model that accurately predicted that last year's Hurricane Harvey, which also stalled over land, would drop 60 inches.

"Sea levels have risen in most places by about 1 foot over the past century. It's going to destroy homes", said Jeff Byard, an official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"This will be a storm that's going to be far larger than we have seen in perhaps decades", Trump said.

Forecasters said parts of North Carolina could get 20in of rain, if not more, with as much as 10in elsewhere in the state and in Virginia, parts of Maryland and Washington DC.

Florence's projected path includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in huge lagoons.

Briefing from the Oval Office, President Donald Trump urged people to heed orders to evacuate, saying "if you are asked to leave, get out". But most people don't know what zone they live in and may not know a mandatory evacuation order applies to their location, he said. "It's a big one".