Hurricane Florence was on course Wednesday to deliver a powerful blow to the east coast of the United States, with forecasters warning of life-threatening rainfall and flooding even as it weakened to a Category 2 storm.
As Florence closed in, President Donald Trump and state and local officials urged residents in the path of the storm to evacuate before it was too late.
Up to 1.7 million people are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and coastal residents were frantically boarding up homes and businesses and hitting the road on Wednesday as the storm approached.
Florence is forecast to dump up to 40 inches (one meter) of rain in some areas after it makes landfall in North and South Carolina.
"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast," said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Florence is being trailed in the Atlantic by two other storms -- Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac.
Projected movement of Hurricane Florence