The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning Tuesday for much of the South Carolina coast, and all the North Carolina coast.
The warning extends from north of Charleston, South Carolina, up the Virginia border. A storm surge warning also covers the same area.
This includes Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, the Outer Banks, and the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds.
Winds increased to 140 mph, with even higher gusts.
Florence will likely remain a very dangerous and major hurricane through landfall, which is expected sometime Friday.
Here's the latest hurricane forecast:
Ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina, will shut down Wednesday in preparation for Hurricane Florence, according to Cmdr. Bion Stewart of the US Coast Guard Sector North Carolina.
Six hundred people with the Coast Guard sector are immediately available to assist with additional resources, and teams are ready to respond to shallow water rescues, he said.
Because their station in Wilmington is subject to flooding, they will move their incident post to Seymore Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina. They started moving resources outside of the area a week ago in preparation for the storm, Stewart said.
Fresh water flooding is big concern inland, he said.
Traffic appeared light in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but the area’s congressman believes that’s because a mass exit has already taken place.
“They’re going to be on their own if they stay,” said South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice.
Still, more than half of the Myrtle Beach-area residents and visitors who spoke to CNN today said they were not planning to leave.
CNN witnessed plenty of empty store shelves, several small lines for gas and mostly calm residents.
But the warnings from officials remained dire.
“This is a storm as big or bigger than Hurricane Hugo, with potentiality a more catastrophic effect,” Rep. Rice said.
Brock Long, the top official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, urged residents in the path of Hurricane Florence to heed all warnings.
The Category 4 storm, he said, is "setting out to be a devastating event." Federal authorities are concerned about the storm surge, which he said has triggered evacuation orders.
"I think the expectation needs to be set with the citizens in this area that if you have been asked to leave, get out of the areas that are going to flood and get into a facility that can with stand the winds. Let's set the expectations as well. This has an opportunity of being a very devastating storm. The power will be off for weeks. You're going to be displaced from your home in coastal areas. There will be flooding in the inland areas as well."
President Trump said Tuesday he expected Congress to approve funds for disaster relief following landfall of Hurricane Florence on the Atlantic coast.
He said the costs would not impede recovery efforts during or after the storm.
"I think that any amounts of money, whatever it takes, we’re going to do," Trump said.
President Trump just had a meeting with Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials as Hurricane Florence continues to barrel toward the East Coast.
The President said the US is "ready as anybody has ever been" for the storm.
Trump added that this hurricane will be "a very large one, far larger than we've seen in perhaps decades."
"Again, they haven't seen anything like what's coming at us in 25, 30 years. Maybe ever," Trump said.
Hurricane Florence is a currently a Category 4 storm, but it may continue to fluctuate in intensity as it moves closer to landfall.
Here's why categories matter: Meteorologists use the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to measure a hurricane's strength.
The system divides storms into five categories:
- Category 1: Winds 74 to 95 mph (Minor damage)
- Category 2: Winds 96 to 110 mph (Extensive damage — Can uproot trees and break windows)
- Category 3: Winds 111 to 129 mph (Devastating — Can break windows and doors)
- Category 4: Winds 130 to 156 mph (Catastrophic damage — Can tear off roofs)
- Category 5: Winds 157 mph or higher (The absolute worst and can level houses and destroy buildings)
This animation shows what each category of storm is like:
South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice is not sticking around for Hurricane Florence to make landfall.
The Republican lawmaker plans on leaving the evacuation zone because of the dangers the storm could bring. He's hoping others will do the same.
"This is a massive, powerful, destructive, devastating beast and it is headed right at us," Rice said, while speaking to CNN in Myrtle Beach.
Jim Darling and his parrot, Maximus, are planning to ride out the massive Category 4 storm, which is expected to hit the Carolinas Thursday.
"I'd rather just be at home, then stuck in a hotel somewhere," he told CNN on Tuesday while he was out shopping for supplies in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
State and local authorities are urging residents to leave some coastal areas before the dangerous storm makes landfall.
Despite the warnings, Darling, who's originally from Boston, said he faced worse storms in the past and was prepared to hunker down at his home. He stocked up on water, batteries, food and milk ahead of Hurricane Florence.
"I am not really worried about it. I won't be calling anybody to help me out anyhow, I can take care of it myself," he said.