RICHMOND, Va. -- Hurricane Florence has potential to cause "massive damage" to parts of the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States -- and not just in the coastal Carolina areas where the storm aims to make landfall Friday morning, officials warned.
More than 1 million people faced mandatory evacuation orders Tuesday in coastal areas of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, as one of the strongest hurricanes to churn toward the eastern seaboard in decades -- currently a Category 4 storm -- nears shore.
A slight change for the last 24 hours has been a "positive thing for Virginia," CBS 6 chief meteorologist Zach Daniel said "It's a nice trend to see."
Daniel said it looked like a high pressure system moving into the Northeast U.S. over the next few days will help prevent the "incredible looking hurricane" from drifting north, toward Richmond, after it makes landfall.
"Florence is going to continue to move to the west-northwest and accelerate... run into the flow from the high pressure system and slow down," Daniel said.
As it slows down, Florence will turn more to the west.
"It looks like it will make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane, it could be a strong Category 3 hurricane, and then the track inland is more of a westerly track rather than a north-westerly track," Daniel said. "All this can change, but spaghetti plots are starting to pick up on taking it more westerly."
That would lessen the overall rain and wind that makes it into Virginia.
"I still think we'll get a lot of rainfall and a little bit of wind," Daniel said. "This should not change our overall mental state in terms of expecting the worst, but hoping for the best."
Central Virginia would likely begin to feel the impact of Florence Friday night into the weekend.
Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for complete coverage of Florence. Click here to track the storm with the CBS 6 Interactive Hurricane Tracker.