Hurricane Florence has made landfall over North Carolina, causing 'life-threatening' storm surge and hurricane-force winds on the coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. 'Catastrophic' flooding is expected across the Carolinas, with maximum sustained winds at 90 mph as of 5 a.m. Friday.
- Hurricane Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach North Carolina at 7.15 a.m. on Friday.
- The storm has sustained wind speeds of 90 mph, and areas of the North Carolina coast have recorded flood waters as deep as 6.3 ft already.
- A total of 40 inches of rain could fall over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
- Thousands of people are in shelters while millions of homes are under official watches or warnings for extreme weather.
- The NHC says the hurricane will not weaken much until later in the weekend when it starts to turn inland.
Hurricane Florence has made landfall on the East Coast of the US, causing massive floods in what the National Hurricane Center has warned could be a "catastrophic" situation.
The NHC announced in a Facebook live video that Hurricane Florence made landfall at 7.15 a.m. Friday.
Hurricane-force winds with a maximum sustained speeds of 90 mph are lashing the coast, where up to 40 inches of rain and a storm surge 11 feet high surge are expected in some areas, according to the NHC.
So far, floods as deep as 6.3 feet and wind gusts as fast as 105 mph have been recorded.
Conditions had been steadily deteriorating overnight along the coast even before the hurricane officially made landfall. This is due to the large size of the hurricane, where hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km).
Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, said on Friday that the conditions can be felt "even well away from the center" and that people who believe themselves to be on the edge of the storm may still be in danger.
The conditions, he said, are "really dangerous" and the storm surge "very deadly" even far away from the coast.
The storm is slow moving and is expected to dump rain for days, likely leading to knocked trees and power outages. "Water is going to be the most important thing here," Graham said.
Hurricane Florence is expected to move across North Carolina and eastern South Carolina on Friday and Saturday. It will not weaken much until it turns inland over the weekend, forecasters said.
These images, recorded by a camera maintained by the HurricaneTracker.com website in the riverfront town of New Bern, North Carolina, showed the dramatic progress of flooding through Thursday, which had consumed most of the Union Point river bank area by evening.
Footage from North Carolina shows massive flooding and high winds
Photos and videos shared on social media showed dangerous conditions in North Carolina overnight and early Friday morning.
The National Weather Service recorded a wind gust of 105 mph in Wilmington on Friday.
This timelapse shows how much rain fell in just a four-hour period in the coastal city of Oriental, North Carolina.
The most extreme conditions could be seen on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and on riverfront cities which were hit hard by storm surge waters forced inland.
NBC meteorologist Bill Karins shared an image of the levels of flooding in New Bern.
The NHC said that a gauge in Emerald Isle, a town on a sandbank just north of Wilmington, had reported 6.3 feet of flood waters.
Florence's wind speed means it is now a Category 1 hurricane, weaker than it was when further out at sea.
But the National Weather Service has consistently warned that the storm is no less dangerous even as the wind speed falls, as most of the danger will come from the rain and floods. The storm surge is "life-threatening" and the flooding likely "catastrophic," the NHC said at 8 a.m. on Friday.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned of impending disaster before the center approached the state, the Associated Press reported.
"The worst of the storm is not yet here but these are early warnings of the days to come,” he said. “Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience."
Millions of people are affected
Governors of five states have declared states of emergency: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland.
More than 370,000 people are already without power in North Carolina, and more than 12,000 people in shelters according to the Associated Press. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.
Mandatory evacuation orders were in place in coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, affecting a total of about 1.7 million people, according to the Associated Press. It is not clear, however, how many people did evacuate. Millions of others have been stockpiling supplies such as gas cans, generators, plywood, and sand bags.
The homes of than 10 million people were under official watches or warnings for hurricane or tropical storm conditions.
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