Add Hurricane Florence as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Hurricane Florence news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
The hurricane centers best guess was that Florences eye would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.
Data from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft, coastal surface observations, and NOAA Doppler radar indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 90 miles per hour with higher gusts. The storm surge could rise up to 13 feet - that's water inundating homes up to the first-floor ceiling, the National Hurricane Center said.
At 7 a.m., the center of the eye was located about 5 miles (10 kilometers) east of Wilmington, moving west at 6 mph.
"From 8 a.m.to noon, the center will drift inland across southern North Carolina, and that is when we will see the strongest winds", said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.
The Miami-based center had said earlier Friday Florence's arrival would come with "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over portions of the Carolinas.
When will Hurricane Florence hit Charlotte?
Mr Graham said the Pamlico and Neuse rivers in North Carolina will see their flows "reversed" as storm surges push water back inland.
Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge moved in for an extended stay along the coast.
"We are completely ready for hurricane Florence, as the storm gets even larger and more powerful".
The National Hurricane Center said a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, reported 6.3 feet (1.92 meters) of inundation. As of Wednesday evening, officials say these surges are now "highly likely" as Florence churns closer.
"Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience". Computer models that have shown it restrengthening and moving into the Gulf are discounted at this time, but the system will have to be watched for the next several days in case it reorganizes.
Cooper also requested additional federal disaster assistance in anticipation of what his office called "historic major damage" across the state.
More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.
More than 12,000 were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 people in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.
Prisoners were affected, too. North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities. Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.
The National Weather Service says almost 5 million people could witness at least 10 inches of rain as the slow-moving storm makes slow forward progress.
Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC...20 to 30 inches, isolated 40 inches.
Remainder of SC and North Carolina into southwest Virginia...6 to 12 inches, isolated 15 inches.
According to some forecasts, Florence is predicted to slow down and stall off the coast of North and SC before moving around off the shore on September 14, Sept. 15, and September 16.
Incredible amounts of water will fall from the sky over the next several days in the Carolinas.
A weather station at a community college recorded a 100 miles per hour wind gust, and forecasters tweeted that a 91 miles per hour wind gust slammed into Wilmington's airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago.
While the storm weakened, forecasters still predict up to 9 feet of storm surge in the Myrtle Beach area.
The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as sluggish and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico previous year. With that said, the President made a tweet this morning which was not only irresponsible, but also a blatant lie.