The National Hurricane Center said the hurricane's peak winds have decreased slightly to 125 mph but the size of the wind field has increased to outwards of 70 miles from the center.
The National Hurricane Center's projected track had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast starting Thursday night before finally blowing ashore.
"It looks like the hurricane should approach the Wilmington, N.C., area and then potentially stall before shifting south and perhaps paralleling along the coastline towards the Savannah area", Speciale said.
The US east coast is bracing for more than 40 inches of rain as Hurricane Florence barrels nearer to land.
Col. Glenn McNeill with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said troopers are on standby statewide to assist where needed. After Florence's rain starts to fall this week, he said, the rainfall could continue through Monday. Some of these reactors - including Duke Energy's Brunswick and Harris nuclear plants in North Carolina and Dominion Energy's Surry plant in Virginia - may be directly in the hurricane's path, Reuters reported. Parts of North Carolina could get 1 metre. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175miles.
For a swath of the North Carolina shore from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, the storm surge could range from 9-13 feet, the NHC said.
Forecasters said conditions are still good for Florence, a Category 4 hurricane, to strengthen a little as it moves over very warm waters.
Some fluctuations in strength are expected through Thursday morning.
And it led to mixed signals from officials in SC, whose governor had canceled mandatory evacuation for several coastal counties.
The National Weather Service is forecasting heavy rainfall Sunday through Tuesday across central SC with flooding potential in the Upstate, northeast Georgia and the mountains of western North Carolina.
Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird.
The front that has been giving us showers and storms the past few days will finally dissipate and lift northwestward.
To back up that point, Graham cited a sobering statistic: "50 percent of the fatalities in these tropical systems is the storm surge - and that's not just along the coast".
"Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different".
Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency invoked a former boxing champion to warn residents that Florence would bring "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast".