At this time the storm surge, where winds and the mass of the storm push water forward over beaches and anything that is within 15 - 20 feet from sea level.
Boeing evacuated several new 787-10 Dreamliner jets from its factory in North Charleston, South Carolina, to protect them from the storm. It's already been raining in these areas and the ground is sodden.
If the storm lingers for a few days, the sheer amount of rainfall could lead to catastrophic flooding.
According to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) Florence is coming with tropical storm force winds (over 70mph) and will also bring heavy rain bands.
When flight operations can resume will depend on how long Florence sticks around, and forecasters predict it could sit and drench areas of the Carolinas with a deluge of rainwater over a couple of days.
As of Thursday morning, Hurricane Florence has weakened to 110 miles per hour as it contends with slightly increased wind shear and drier air.
Even though the storm's category fell from a 4 to a 2 Wednesday (local time), forecasters stressed the category is only an evaluation of the storm's peak winds in a very narrow core near the center of the storm.
Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage. Then it dropped to an extratropical cyclone - but with hurricane-force winds akin to a low Category 1 hurricane - before making landfall in New Jersey. With about $30 billion in damages, Hurricane Ike was, at the time, the second-costliest USA hurricane on record. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions", the hurricane center briefing said. "Even though [Florence] has weakened, it is no less risky than it was yesterday".
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In Wilmington, resident Michael Wilson fortified his home against the wind and rain, and anxious.
"Think of it like a marathon", said Mark Robinson, from The Weather Network, also in Wilmington with Kourounis.
Terrifying as the situation is (I am regularly checking on my folks, who abandoned Charleston for the highlands of North Carolina), there is a silver lining.
Businesses in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., prepare for Hurricane Florence on Wednesday.
Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation?
In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged them to stay in safer locations despite forecast changes showing Florence's path largely missing the state.
"It's just extremely busy and it's even busier than previous year and all at once", Blake said. "They monitor to see which Waffle Houses are still open and it helps them judge how badly a place is damaged". First off, additional weakening is unlikely until the eye comes ashore.
Outside this zone of destructive winds, damaging winds are still likely, even some distance inland from the coast, which would lead to minor structural damage, downed trees and widespread power outages.