The outer rain bands of Hurricane Florence were beginning to be felt in North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center, as the Category 2 storm, with sustained winds of 110 miles per hour and the likelihood of "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall", ranged closer to a landfall.
In the 11 p.m. ET advisory, Florence was 280 miles southeast of Wilmington, NC, packing maximum-sustained winds of 110 mph and moving to the northwest at 17 mph.
Fears about Hurricane Florence spread south on Wednesday, with Georgia declaring a state of emergency after officials in the Carolinas urged people to evacuate the coast ahead of the storm's expected pounding winds and rain-driven floods. "Please heed the warnings", Mr Brock said: "Your time is running out".
Some 38cm (15in) to 64cm (25in) of rain is forecast in some areas - with up to one metre (40in) at the centre of the storm.
The landfall location is expected to be between Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina.
The storm looked likely to make landfall on the coast of North and SC but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south.
Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued in coastal area of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Rescue swimmers and other ground crew members will head straight to Raleigh, North Carolina, Macy said.
The space agency released footage showing what Hurricane Florence looks like from space on Wednesday, as states along the coast brace for what experts are saying will be a devastating impact.
USA emergency officials have warned "time is running out" for people to escape from Hurricane Florence as outer bands of wind and rain began lashing North Carolina.
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Then, it will probably hover along the coast on Saturday, pushing up to 13ft of storm surge and dumping 20 to 30 inches of rain on both states, before heading over the Appalachian Mountains.
Emergency preparations in the area included activating 2,800 National Guard troops in North Carolina, stockpiling food, setting up shelters, switching traffic patterns so that major roads led away from shore and securing 16 nuclear reactors in the three-state region.
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It was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina.
News that the storm could plow through SC after landfall came shortly after McMaster lifted his mandatory-evacuation order for Beaufort County and many other areas south of Charleston. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its centre, and tropical storm force winds up to 195 miles.
"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the NHC said.
However, forecasters warned the widening storm, and its likelihood of lingering along the coast for several days, raises the risk of surging ocean water and torrential rain.
Authorities, including President Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are urging residents in the Carolinas as well as parts of Virginia and Georgia to evacuate as the storm continues its path.