Hurricane Florence continued sweeping across part of the southeastern United States on Friday, bringing powerful winds along with warnings of “life-threatening” storm surge and rainfall, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm made landfall in North Carolina shortly after 7 a.m., the center said.
Collapsed roofs and other structures were already reported in the Morehead City and New Bern areas of North Carolina. New Bern was particularly hard hit, with reports of more than 100 people stranded in their homes in need of rescue. The large and dangerous storm is expected to keep battering parts of North and South Carolina on Friday. Follow Hurricane Florence’s projected path here.
8 a.m.: More than 400,000 without power in North Carolina
North Carolina state officials reported Friday morning that more than 400,000 customers were facing power outages this morning, a number that is likely to increase as the storm’s winds continue to tear at trees and power lines. Outage maps provided by Duke Energy showed that more than a quarter of them were concentrated in two areas on the state’s coast: one around the Wilmington region, the other around Morehead City.
— Mark Berman
7:39 a.m.: Florence makes landfall in North Carolina
Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., at 7:15 a.m. on Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm hit with estimated maximum winds of 90 mph.
In a bulletin Friday morning, the hurricane center reported that the “center of the eye of Hurricane Florence finally makes landfall,” following the storm’s slow, grinding approach to the Southeastern coast.
— Mark Berman
Friday 6:00 a.m.: Florence eyewall is onshore. Center of storm due shortly for landfall near Wilmington, as hundreds of thousands lose power.
The National Weather Service reports that slow-moving Hurricane Florence is moving onto shore and headed toward Wilmington, N.C. The eyewall of Florence is already onshore, according to the National Hurricane Center, and the storm’s center is currently about 10 miles east of Wilmington and about 80 miles north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Gusts of up to 70 miles per hour have been recorded nearby in Topsail Beach, N.C.
Meanwhile, as many as 321,692 households in North Carolina currently lack power, the state’s emergency management department says.
The already high water levels are expected to rise even higher as the tide comes in, and flash flood warnings continue for Wilmington, Washington, Riverbend, and Vanceboro, N.C.
Friday 5:00 a.m.: Dire warning issued as Florence nears landfall
With Hurricane Florence about to make landfall, the National Hurricane Center predicted only a gradual decrease in the storm’s intensity during the day ahead.
“It cannot be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland through the weekend,” the latest update warned.
As of 5 a.m., the hurricane was turning westward and traveling at a speed of roughly 6 miles per hour. Over the next two to three days, it should gradually turn toward the northwest.
Friday 4:45 a.m.: People stranded on roofs and trapped in cars as eyewall nears coast
After slapping the coast overnight with powerful wind and dumping inches of rain, the outer bands of Hurricane Florence continued to push inland. At 4:00 a.m., the National Weather Service released an update on the storm, noting Florence’s eyewall was beginning to reach the coast.
“The water levels in Pamlico Sound and Emerald Isle remain elevated,” the update noted. “These waters are expected to rise as the tides come back in. A USGA gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently recorded 6.6 feet of inundation.”
On the ground, the situation remains serious as floodwaters continued to swallow up residential areas.
The Craven County emergency operations center has received over 100 calls from people who have been trapped in cars or who have water coming into their homes, spokeswoman Amber Parker said. Some area residents are currently trapped on roofs waiting for swift rescue teams to arrive as the area continues to experience extreme flooding, storm surge, and high winds. With a curfew in place until 8 a.m. and many roads in the area closed, people who are experiencing flooding in their homes have little other choice but to wait for help to arrive. Read More: