Hurricane Florence makes landfall in Wilmington; ‘Catastrophic’ flooding expected by NHC

Friday morning, the heart of Hurricane Florence was just off the North Carolina coast, according to the National Hurricane Service.

You can  follow the hurricane using the FOX8 Hurricane Tracker.

Already, flooding and waters have struck the North Carolina coastal regions.

As of 5 a.m. Friday, the NHC reported that the eyewall, which is considered the most severe part of a hurricane, was just beginning to reach the North Carolina coast.

The hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and is coming in at 6 mph.

Water levels have risen in Pamlico Sound and Emerald Isle and forecasters expect them to keep going up as the tides come in.

About 6.6 feet of inundation was reported by a US Geological Survey gauge in Emerald Isle.

About 10-12 feet of water is expected, according to Kate Garner of the FOX8 MAX Weather Center.

The NHC reported that "catastrophic freshwater flooding" is expected over portions of the Carolinas with "life-threatening" storm surge and hurricane-force winds.

Florence was only 10 miles away from Wilmington as of 6 a.m.

"Rain will be moving into the Piedmont Triad today and will be an issue through Sunday night," Garner said. "Winds will be increasing in the Piedmont-Triad today and the heaviest winds and gusts will last through Sunday. Today, we are facing a chance for showers and thunderstorms. Skies will be mostly cloudy."

Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm as of the 11 p.m. Thursday update from the National Hurricane Center but it is still a dangerous storm.

Conditions are rapidly deteriorating along the coast of the Carolinas as Florence approaches.

Rain bands were already affecting the eastern part of North Carolina and South Carolina, with rain increasing and waves growing.

After hitting the North Carolina coast, the hurricane will cut down into South Carolina before sweeping into western North Carolina and north from there.

While the Piedmont Triad does not currently face a direct hit, we are still expected to face significant rain.

Rain will begin moving into the Piedmont Triad on Friday and be an issue through Sunday night. Winds will be increasing in the Piedmont Triad tonight and tomorrow with some of the wind gusts possibly approaching tropical storm strength.

Summary of watches and warnings in effect:

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for...
* South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina
* Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for...
* Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for...
* South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina
* Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for...
* Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
* North of Duck North Carolina to Cape Charles Light Virginia
* Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort
* Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina