Florence, now a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (209 km/h), was previously expected to travel north, up the North Carolina coast, after making landfall, according to the statement.
This means the storm will have less of an impact in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia and more of an impact on southern North Carolina, South Carolina and northern Georgia.
Hurricane Florence will be one of the biggest storms to make landfall along the United States eastern seaboard in decades.
CBS New York chief weathercaster Lonnie Quinn reports the worst part of the storm is the front right quadrant because you get the highest winds and the storm pushes that water onto the shore.
In Hampton Roads, a tropical storm warning is in effect from Poquoson to the Virginia-North Carolina border, including the lower James and York rivers.
Hurricane Florence's eye was slightly more than 100 miles from Wilmington, according to a 2 p.m. briefing by the National Hurricane Center. At the same time, the hurricane is slowing down because the storm's steering winds, which are responsible for guiding the system in a particular direction, are impeding its progress. "Life-threatening storm surge and rainfall expected".
"We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family's pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband. Other residents have told CNN they're not evacuating because emergency shelters won't accept pets.
While there remains some uncertainty around Hurricane Florence's exact path, one thing does seem certain: it will dump potentially historic rainfall amounts.
Two detention facilities in SC that are within government-mandated evacuation zones will not relocate inmates ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall there. If the storm continues at its current pace, it could be the strongest hurricane to reach the Carolinas in the last 30 years.
As of Thursday morning, Florence has lost some power, changing from a Category 4 to a Category 2 storm. "The biggest hazard that we're anxious about is storm surge", Long said. A lot of people hearing this are remembering Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
While many coastal residents heeded mandatory evacuation orders, others boarded up homes and businesses and chose to courageous the storm, which is forecast to trigger severe flash flooding as it dumps as many as three feet (almost a meter) of rain in some areas. On Wednesday, officials said some of those shelters were at capacity, but in a statement early Thursday, county officials said they were "able to mobilize additional resources to accommodate the need for shelter space".
Officials in New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, have stockpiled enough food and water for 60,000 people for four days, along with more than 28,000 tarps.