The governors of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and SC have all declared states of emergency.
"I've been through hurricanes before but never with kids", she said.
Flaherty, flight director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Hunters, saw the eye wall forming.
Even if Florence hits as "only" a Category 3 hurricane, it will still cause "devastating damage".
A maelstrom like Florence is a slow-rolling nightmare.
At 11 p.m. EDT, the storm's center was located about 465 miles (750 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda and about 1,085 miles (1745 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
In Jacksonville, North Carolina, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) inland, some residents picked up hurricane supplies during their normal weekend shopping, The Daily News reported.
The storm is now around 400 miles south of Bermuda and is moving at 16 mph.
Not only has the storm exploded in intensity, but its zone of hurricane-force winds approximately doubled in size Monday.
"Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said in a bulletin. The storm is so huge that SC won't be spared even if it escapes the eye of the hurricane. Warmer oceans, especially, provide fuel for hurricanes in the form of evaporating moisture.
Astronaut Ricky Arnold, who is aboard the ISS, also snapped a picture of the storm, writing that the ISS crew is "thinking of those who will be affected" by its devastation.
The powerful storm leaped to a Category 4 hurricane on Monday, just hours after it was deemed a Category 2.
In a 5 p.m. EDT update from the NHC, the storm's winds rose to 140 miles per hour, and it picked up speed in its westward track, doubling its speed from Sunday to 13 miles per hour.
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Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore. Hurricanes are measured by wind.
Like Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over Texas in 2017, Florence could linger over the Southeast for several days after landfall. NPR's Rebecca Hersher has covered that storm's devastating aftermath and now is watching the approaching storm. ECU - which has already called off the rest of the week's classes - cited "significant imminent safety concerns" that included "the high probability of a catastrophic impact on the region and perilous travel conditions before, during and after the storm".
JAMES KOSSIN: There's so many hurricanes going on right now; it's nearly hard to keep up.
United States airlines are allowing passengers to change their travel plans as Hurricane Florence threatens the east coast.
KOSSIN: This is a incredibly risky storm.
"We know the evacuation order I'm issuing will be inconvenient", McMaster said. It just wouldn't move for days, so it kept raining and raining - 60 inches in some places.
As it approached the USA on Wednesday, the International Space Station (ISS) recorded some startling footage. One reason may be that climate change is causing the big currents of wind that hurricanes ride on to slow down.
Preparations intensified up and down the densely populated coast.
"Action today can avoid losses due to Florence", he said.
Every now and then nature throws out a storm so massive we can only gaze upon it in humbling awe at its fearsome power.