Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, Friday morning and continues to spread heavy rain and strong winds into the Carolinas, before kicking off an agonizing crawl through the Southeast into early next week, producing catastrophic inland rainfall flooding, life-threatening storm surge and destructive winds.
Florence made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina, at 7:15 a.m. EDT with maximum sustained winds around 90 mph.
The eyewall, the worst part of Florence, near the coast of southeastern North Carolina and is only the beginning of what could be a record-wet siege from a tropical cyclone in parts of the Tar Heel State.
The eyewall will move extremely slowly across the North Carolina coast through early Friday morning bringing extreme wind gusts and very heavy rainfall.
As of 10 a.m. EDT, Florence is located about 20 miles southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and is slowly moving southwestward at 6 mph.
NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch for parts of North Carolina until 5 p.m. EDT.
Extreme rainfall is already occurring in eastern North Carolina. A flash flood emergency was issued for portions of Carteret, Craven, Pamlico and Jones counties due to a combination of storm surge and heavy rainfall. This flash flood emergency includes New Bern and Morehead City.
An estimated 10 to 15 inches of rain has fallen across portions of coastal North Carolina as of early Friday.
Water levels remain elevated in Pamlico Sound in North Carolina and a gauge in Emerald Isle recorded a 7.0-foot surge Friday morning. A 10.1-foot storm surge was recorded very early Friday in New Bern.
As Hurricane Florence hammers North Carolinas coastline with rain and wind, first responders are scrambling to rescue residents who didnt heed evacuation orders and are now stranded in their homes, cars and even on rooftops amid rising floodwaters.
Video: Hurricane Florence: What its like as the storm sets in – BBC News
Friday morning, Wilmington, North Carolina, recorded a wind gust to 105 mph, the second strongest wind on record here. A wind gust to 100 mph was reported at Cape Fear, North Carolina earlier Friday and a buoy about 50 miles to the east of the center of Florence's eye recently reported a wind gust to 112 mph.
The highest sustained wind so far was reported in Cape Lookout, where sustained winds clocked in at 83 mph.
The rainfall in the area is expected to reach 20 to 40 inches over the next several days. There is a high risk of flash flooding in the Carolinas through Saturday, and the flooding will likely strike Virginia by Sunday.
How storm surges build up, destroy and kill
Hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) extend outward up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph) extend outward up to 195 miles from the center.
Florence has potential to cause $5 billion in property damage
A hurricane warning and storm surge warning are in effect from the South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, including the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. These warnings include Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, and most of the Outer Banks.
Hurricane warnings also extend inland, including North Carolina cities such as Greenville, Goldsboro and Kinston.
Hurricane watches and storm surge watches are in effect from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, northward to the South Santee River, South Carolina. This includes Charleston, South Carolina.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect north of Duck, North Carolina, to Cape Charles Lighthouse, Virginia, as well as for the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort, Virginia, and from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, northward to the South Santee River, South Carolina. This includes Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Virginia, and Charleston, South Carolina.
A hurricane warning means hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) are expected somewhere within the warning area and is typically issued 36 hours ahead of the arrival of tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph), which could make last-minute preparations difficult.
Syracuse, N.Y. — As Hurricane Florence begins battering the Carolinas, the first weather alert for its possible impacts on Upstate New York has been issued.
A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening storm-surge inundation within the warning area during the next 36 hours from rising water moving inland from the coastline.
Wind gusts reached as high as 106 mph at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, late Thursday evening while a 105-mph gust was reported at Fort Macon, North Carolina.
The National weather Service in Binghamton this morning issued a hazardous weather outlook, the first heads-up that troublesome weather is on the horizon.
Video: Views of Hurricane Florence at Landfall
US coast battered by wind, rain as Hurricane Florence closes in
Winds were gusting as high as 99 mph at Fort Macon, North Carolina and sustained winds are blowing at 73 mph early Friday.
According to radar images as of 7 a.m., the storm’s eye was drawing near the New Hanover-Pender County line. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office are waiting for the National Hurricane Center to confirm the track of the eyewall, which typically has the storm’s strongest winds.
Sustained winds of 79 mph were recently reported in Davis, North Carolina, while a 77-mph sustained wind was recorded at Fort Macon, North Carolina.
As of 9 a.m. Friday, Swansboro, North Carolina has measured 14.25 inches of rainfall. Over 12 inches of rainfall has been reported near Calabash, North Carolina, with over 10 inches of rainfall near Surf City, North Carolina.
On Thursday night, a storm surge of 10 feet above normal levels was reported by the National Weather Service office in Morehead City, North Carolina, at the Cherry Branch Ferry Terminal on the Neuse River, courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
A gauge at Oriental, North Carolina, on the Neuse River recorded a water height of about 6 feet above normal tide levels late Thursday.
5 p.m. update: Florence slows as it moves within 100 miles of Wilmington
There continues to be overwash of the dunes at the "S" curves on Highway 12 near Rodanthe in the Outer Banks.
Steering currents have fallen apart allowing Florence to slow down tremendously as it drifts toward the coast of the Carolinas.
In April, The State newspaper in Columbia reported that an Army investigation had faulted Fort Jackson officials’ handling of a 2015 storm that caused an 80-year-old earthen dam to crumble and release 100 million gallons of water.
Gradual weakening is expected on Friday with significant weakening over the weekend as it moves farther inland.
The National Hurricane Center noted late Wednesday that while Florence has weakened, "the wind field of the hurricane continues to grow in size. This evolution will produce storm surges similar to that of a more intense, but smaller, hurricane, and thus the storm-surge values seen in the previous advisory are still valid."
– Storm-Surge Impact: A destructive storm surge will accompany the eye coming ashore into Friday, and coastal flooding may persist through multiple high-tide cycles into this weekend east of the center of Florence. All evacuation orders from local officials should be followed because of this dangerous threat. Significant beach erosion is also likely on the southeastern U.S. coast. Elevated water levels may persist for some time after landfall in areas where onshore winds persist.
The storm is likely to bring significant rain to the Carolinas, where some places could see upwards of 20 inches, the update said. This is expected to cause "catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding."
Video: Hurricane Florence whips through Wilmington, NC
Here are the latest storm-surge inundation forecasts from the National Hurricane Center if the eye of Florence arrives at high tide:
– Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, North Carolina, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers: 7 to 11 feet, with locally higher amounts possible- Cape Lookout, North Carolina, to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina: 6 to 9 feet- South Santee River, South Carolina, to Cape Fear, North Carolina: 4 to 6 feet- Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, to Salvo, North Carolina: 4 to 6 feet- Salvo, North Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina: 2 to 4 feet- Edisto Beach, South Carolina, to the South Santee River, South Carolina: 2 to 4 feet
The National Weather Service is forecasting a record tide level at Beaufort, North Carolina, Friday morning, topping levels seen during Hazel (1954) and Floyd (1999), among others.
Hurricane Florence — weakened, but still powerful — inched closer to land Friday morning, battering the Carolina coast with 60 mph winds and heavy rains that officials fear could cause catastrophic flooding.
Battering waves will ride atop the storm surge, inflicting more damage to structures near the water as the hurricane arrives.
Tidal flooding will also occur with high tide as far north as the southern Chesapeake Bay, including along the tidal James River and Potomac River near the bay. The highest tides will occur late Friday morning into Friday afternoon.
New Bern, a city of about 30,000 residents, saw significant storm surge flooding as the rivers overflowed their banks and swept into town. A flash flood emergency was declared in the area that includes Carteret, Craven, Pamlico and Jones counties Friday morning.
– High-Impact Rainfall: Florence will produce high-end flash flooding between Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Morehead City, North Carolina.
The National Hurricane Center noted that "life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over portions of the Carolinas and the southern and central Appalachians late this week into early next week."
That heavy rain threat may last for days into early next week in some areas, given Florence's slow movement.
At least 150 people were awaiting rescue in New Bern early Friday morning as Hurricane Florence lashed the North Carolina coast with strong winds and life-threatening storm surge.
Disastrous flooding is expected in some areas, not simply near the coastal Carolinas where the heaviest rain totals are forecast, but also in the Appalachians where heavy rain over mountainous terrain is likely to trigger mudslides and rockslides. See the link below for more information.
As of 5 a.m. Friday, 200 people had already been rescued as waters rose on the Neuse and Trent rivers, according to Colleen Roberts, a city public information officer.
The latest: Eyewall of Florence sitting on coast near Wilmington
According to the National Hurricane Center, Florence is expected to produce the following rainfall totals:
New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Weather Channel that about 16 county crews were out rescuing those who had refused to heed evacuation warnings and were now stranded.
– Coastal North Carolina into far northeastern South Carolina: an additional 20 to 25 inches, with isolated totals up to 40 inches- Rest of South Carolina and North Carolina into southwestern Virginia: 5 to 10 inches, with isolated totals up to 15 inches
The runoff from these incredible rainfall totals will continue for days, and then will enter the riverways of the Carolinas. Flooding may swell these watersheds for weeks, if not months.
As Florence Plows Into NC, Hundreds Rescued From Catastrophic Floods
– Wind Impact: Hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) are occurring over portions of coastal North Carolina and are expected to spread across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina through Friday. Tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph) are expected to spread inland across the remainder of the warning area through Saturday. Numerous downed trees and long-lasting power outages could occur near and inland from where the center of Florence strikes.
NC governor speaks: Dont get complacent over threats from approaching Florence
This threat of tree damage and power outages may also extend across Florence's larger swath of tropical-storm-force winds and may last for an extended period of time into this weekend. Structural damage to homes and buildings is possible, particularly where the core of any hurricane-force winds moves through.
– Tornadoes: A few tornadoes are possible in eastern and southeastern North Carolina through Friday. These tornadoes should be weak and short-lived but could add to damage caused by rainfall or straight-line hurricane winds.
The name Florence has been used for Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes since 1953. The destructive potential of this iteration could mean the name Florence may be retired from future use.
Weather Channel demos Hurricane Florence worst-case scenario with mixed reality
Tropical Depression Six formed late on Aug. 31, then was named Tropical Storm Florence the next day in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean.
On Sept. 5, Florence became a Category 4 hurricane after rapidly intensifying over the open Atlantic Ocean.
Florence underwent rapid intensification a second time Sunday into Monday, when its winds jumped up from 75 mph to 130 mph in just 25 hours ending 12 p.m. EDT Monday.