Vehicles were directed onto USA 501 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Tuesday.
Forecasters said Florence's eye could come ashore early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.
FEMA and the National Weather Service also urged residents along the coast to evacuate.
Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, said the politicians behind the North Carolina law are placing their constituents in harm's way. The biggest problem will likely be mass power outages, he says. The effects of torrential rain are devastating, costly, and deadly, especially in urban areas where concrete comprises the basis of most structures and makes it incredibly hard for water to drain.
"At this point, that has not come forward", Radakovich said. "Once these winds start blowing at that tropical storm rate, it will be virtually impossible for the rescuers to get in to rescue you".
People have been ordered to evacuate the Carolinas ahead of strong winds and heavy rain as the hurricane lands.
New Hanover County officials said Thursday morning that it could accept more residents seeking shelter at Trask Middle School, Eaton Elementary School, Codington Elementary School, the Johnson Pre-K Center and Noble Middle School.
"You need to get out now", Hill told those who were staying behind.
"So if you're in trouble, you're on your own", Hill added.
"There was no gas yesterday", says Rebecca Segool of Wilmington, N.C.
"This morning I drove around for an hour looking for gas in Cary".
"I want to get them as far away as possible". "Prepare for long power outages".
After that, Florence is forecast to move northwest and north and move across western SC on Sunday, Sept. 15, and across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on Monday, Sept. 16, the NHC said.
Onboard the ISS, Gerst was able to capture some incredible images looking down in the storm's eye.
"You have water coming onshore and you can rainfall coming down that's trying to move out", he said. The projected path shows the storm moving from near Wilmington, North Carolina to near Columbia, South Carolina.
Air travel could be all but stopped for several days, too.
As Florence nears the east coast, meteorologists are focused on two key factors: ocean temperatures and wind sheer (the difference in speeds at the upper and lower parts of the storm). Despite the fact that the hurricane has been downgraded to Category 2, the 80 miles per hour winds and coastal flooding will still cause significant damage throughout the southeast. He compares Hurricane Florence with Hurricane Isabel, which hit the Virginia and North Carolina area at a similar strength in 2003, leaving about a million people without power and Hatteras Island battered.
As of 8am local time (midnight Friday NZT) it was centred about 275km east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 355km east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving northwest at 20kmh.
For many of those under evacuation orders, getting out of harm's way has proved difficult, as airlines canceled flights and motorists had a hard time finding gas. Forecasters are predicting as much as 40in of rain in some localized areas.
For the Columbia area, state and city officials warn of flooding and the likelihood of flash flooding.
If the rain forecasts hold true, it could take some time for not just planes, but cars, trucks, trains, and even some emergency vehicles to return to the hardest hit areas.
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