And in both states evacuations already underway.
The storm was getting stronger and stronger.
Heavy rain in the Washington area over the weekend had already led to flooding in historic Alexandria, Virginia, local media said, and the National Weather Service issued a flood watch for part of the Potomac River.
Forecasters said the hurricane's strength is expected to fluctuate but it still will be a risky storm by the time it reaches the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday.
The eastbound lane of Interstate 26 into Charleston and Route 501 into Myrtle Beach will be reversed beginning Tuesday when the order takes effect, McMaster said at a Monday news conference.
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More than 1 million people along the Carolina coast fled toward higher ground on Monday, September 10 in a mass evacuation ordered three days before the expected arrival of Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm and the most powerful to menace the region in almost three decades. The entire SC coast is now under a mandatory evacuation order beginning at noon tomorrow.
For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge.
Florence had strengthened into a Category 4 storm by Monday afternoon with maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour, according to the hurricane center. And the timing couldn't be more apt: Monday was the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, when storm activity has historically been at its highest.
President Donald Trump, whose administration was harshly criticized as being slow to respond to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, canceled a political rally planned for Friday in Jackson, Mississippi, over safety concerns related to Florence, his campaign said.
Cooper and his counterparts in South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland all declared states of emergency.
Meanwhile, forecasters urged residents to complete such storm preparations by the end of Wednesday, saying some impacts from Florence were nearly a certainty by Thursday.
Hurricane Florence: Storm force winds for North Carolina within hours
More than 1 million have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia. The storm is expected to make landfall early Friday morning near Wilmington, North Carolina .
"It's scary to all of us".
"I need my stuff for [my] grandbabies - baby food and snacks", she said. She was gathering up important papers and preparing to drive inland to ride out the storm. They've purchased a generator, a box fan, five cases of water, four bags of ice, snacks, canned food, flashlights, batteries and pet food, he said.
The state Transportation Department likely will begin diverting eastbound traffic off I-26 in Columbia to USA 321 or I-77 north at 8 a.m. Tuesday, it said. It said about 750 military personnel will be designated to provide support.
Florence was more than 400 miles wide early Monday, according to the NWS.
Other military personnel, however, could find themselves directly in harm's way.
Major US military installments may be in the path of the Florence, including the largest Marine base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and the world's biggest Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia.
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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.