Isaac is expected to reach the islands, which remain under a tropical storm warning, by Thursday afternoon and cross the Caribbean through Saturday.
The mayor of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, said authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland. Surges as high as 9-to-13 feet are now forecast from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout.
"It's going to be bad", said Mr Woody White, a county commissioner. "Flooding is nearly guaranteed".
As the storm continues toward Southeastern North Carolina, it will bring life-threatening storm surges, flooding and unsafe waves to the coast, the briefing said. As it turns into southern SC.
By the time the storm leaves the region, forecasters expect that it will have dumped 50 to 70 centimeters of rain in coastal areas, with some parts possibly being inundated with up to 100 centimeters.
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.
Most of those cancellations are tied to the approaching hurricane, now a Category 2 storm with winds expected onshore late Thursday at more than 80 miles per hour. When and where it will make landfall is unclear. Sixty-one shelters have opened in SC - 12 of which are designated for special medical needs - able to now accommodate more than 31,000 people.
Heavy rainbands along with tropical storm-force winds are spreading across the outer banks and coastal southeastern North Carolina, the NHC said on Thursday. A tropical storm warning covers the area from north of Duck to the Virgina Tidewater area.
"The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline", according to the National Hurricane Center.
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As Florence closed in, some residents weighed whether to ride it out. The area will suffer far beyond the immediate effects expected.
"It's just extremely busy and it's even busier than past year and all at once", Blake said.
In Wilmington, Richard King, 64, said Wednesday that he, his wife and perhaps 60 of their neighbors planned to stay.
"We're seeing on social media, we're seeing comments and calls coming into our hotline that people are saying, 'Oh, it's only a Cat 2.' Well, only a Cat 2 has winds of up to 96 to 110 miles per hour", Derrec Becker, spokesman for the S.C. Emergency Management Division told The State on Thursday.
"We're a good community up there". "Time is Running Out".
Bertha Bradley said she has never favoured evacuating ahead of hurricanes. She packed up what she could and took a ferry Tuesday night.
There was also concern over crops.
"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said. This system, when it gets to the coast, is only going to be moving about three miles per hour.
The contraflow will end Thursday at noon on 501 and at 6 p.m. on I-26. REUTERS/Chris KeanePeople walk past a boarded up building before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, U.S., September 12, 2018. It urged residents to heed evacuation orders.