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.
Video: Hurricane Florence closes in on the US coast
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.
Video: HURRICANE FLORENCE MAKES LANDFALL l 8 a.m. Friday Update
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.
Schreiber, who works at the town post office, said their condo unit is on the second floor of a four-story building, so they can move up if the water rises. They ultimately decided not to evacuate because they worried about not being able to get back.
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.
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.
In the Triangle: Tornado watch issued for most of central NC, including Wake
The highest sustained wind so far was reported in Cape Lookout, where sustained winds clocked in at 83 mph.
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.
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.
Video: Views of Hurricane Florence at Landfall
Hurricane warnings also extend inland, including North Carolina cities such as Greenville, Goldsboro and Kinston.
Areas from Edisto Beach to South Santee River in South Carolina were under both a storm surge and hurricane watch, while areas located north of Duck, N.C., to the states border with Virginia were under a storm surge watch, according to the NHC update.
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.
Basically just a sand bar: Outer Banks might narrowly escape Florence, but what about the next hurricane?
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.
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.
Winds were gusting as high as 99 mph at Fort Macon, North Carolina and sustained winds are blowing at 73 mph early Friday.
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.
WATCH LIVE: Hurricane Florence live streams from Carolinas
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.
There continues to be overwash of the dunes at the "S" curves on Highway 12 near Rodanthe in the Outer Banks.
“Flooding is possible with even two inches of rain,” the weather service said. “Ground will still be moist after the last few weeks of above-normal rain.”
Steering currents have fallen apart allowing Florence to slow down tremendously as it drifts toward the coast of the Carolinas.
The National weather Service in Binghamton this morning issued a hazardous weather outlook, the first heads-up that troublesome weather is on the horizon.
Gradual weakening is expected on Friday with significant weakening over the weekend as it moves farther inland.
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Florence has potential to cause $5 billion in property damage
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."
Residents trapped on roofs and in vehicles as Hurricane Florence nears coast
– 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.
Here are the latest storm-surge inundation forecasts from the National Hurricane Center if the eye of Florence arrives at high tide:
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst Tweeted, Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye.
This is what it looks like right now in North Carolina, where Florence is leaving a mess
– 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 latest: Eyewall of Florence sitting on coast near Wilmington
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.
Battering waves will ride atop the storm surge, inflicting more damage to structures near the water as the hurricane arrives.
Police chief warns: No one to call in the storm
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.
Florences eye moves toward S. Carolina
– 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.
VIDEO: New Bern, North Carolina Flooding From Florence
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.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Florence is expected to produce the following rainfall totals:
– 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.
– 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.
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.
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.