It marks the beginning of a prolonged assault from wind and water, which - by the time it's over - is likely to bring devastating damage and flooding to millions of people in the Southeast. "Don't plan to leave once the winds and rains start".
But the biggest danger could be life-threatening storm surges. On top of that, a disastrous amount of rain - 500mm, possibly even as much as 1m - is expected to fall.
The hurricane center also said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as Florence neared shore and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the heavy rains could trigger landslides in the western part of his state. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers). "There are approximately 800 line workers and tree personnel actively engaged in storm response preparations". The forecast was complicated because the storm was still small, allowing it to quickly change.
Hurricane Florence is continuing to push towards a landfall around the North Carolina/South Carolina border, and is beginning to lash the central Atlantic seaboard with damaging winds and storm surge. Widespread rainfall amounts could reach 152mm to 300mm, spurring flooding. Tropical-storm-force winds are between 39 and 73 miles per hour.
That's because the weather systems that usually push and pull a storm are disappearing as Florence nears land around the border between North and SC. The low-lying barrier islands hugging the Carolinas coast are experiencing some of the fastest rates of sea level rise in the world, almost an inch a year.
Although the storm is approaching the US coastline as a Category 2 hurricane after weakening from a Category 4 storm, that doesn't mean the storm will be gentle.
Hurricane Florence, after weeks of warnings, has finally begun to touch down in the Carolinas on Thursday afternoon. This includes Wilmington. A hurricane watch extends into the Charleston area.More news: Forza Horizon 4 is getting a 30GB demo later today
As a result, state projections for future sea level rise are more modest than the mainstream.
Many seaports and airports along the southeastern USA coastline have been shut down, more than 1,000 flights have been canceled, and some highways and bridges in low-lying coastal areas could close soon, as Hurricane Florence gets closer to making landfall.
Hurricane Hazel struck the North and SC border area 64 years ago in 1954.
Storm surge is deadly.
Avon on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands reported winds gusting to 74 miles per hour (119 km per hour), while Morehead City had received 3.6 inches (9.1 cm) of rain in the past 13 hours, the National Weather Service said.
People have been ordered to evacuate the Carolinas ahead of strong winds and heavy rain as the hurricane lands. "I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas".
When flight operations can resume will depend on how long Florence sticks around, and forecasters predict it could sit and drench areas of the Carolinas with a deluge of rainwater over a couple of days. Then it dropped to an extratropical cyclone - but with hurricane-force winds akin to a low Category 1 hurricane - before making landfall in New Jersey. The fact that they aren't far away and they're using bus transportation to come up here and coming from the south up to our area north of their campus is also a positive.