Most Florida dealerships either remained closed or operated on bare-bones staff Tuesday as Hurricane Dorian pivoted north, while dealers in the Carolinas and Georgia scrambled to prepare for the storm.
The eye of the storm wasn't expected to pass over the Sunshine State, though warnings of major storm surges along the coast were issued.
Dorian diminished to a Category 2 storm early Tuesday, but it had reached a ferocious Category 5, with maximum sustained winds of 165 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. After wreaking havoc on the Bahamas, Dorian reportedly left at least seven people dead.
On Wednesday morning, the storm lurked stood about 90 miles east of Daytona Beach, Fla., with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. Dorian was moving 8 mph on a north, northwest path.
It remains unclear if, when or where the eye of the hurricane could hit land.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center called for the storm to head north near Florida's coast all day Wednesday and then begin hammering coastal areas of Georgia and the Carolinas on Thursday. Mandatory evacuations had been issued for coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina.
Heavy rains and storm surges are predicted all the way up the coast to North Carolina or potentially southeast Virginia.
South Carolina's governor declared a state of emergency Saturday, and parts of Georgia were placed under a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions are possible but not guaranteed.
Representatives from the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association and the South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association could not be reached for comment.