The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity.
Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.
"This is an extremely unsafe and life-threatening situation", she warns, telling those in the storm's path to stay safe.
Wednesday, keen-eyed WFMY staffers noticed there were dozens of Facebook events with ill-advised but hilarious ways to beat the storm, from suggesting we yell "Fake News!" at the hurricane to playing our saxophones in that general direction. Like a giant hair dryer, these winds push seawater into low-lying marshland and delta areas.
Georgia joined North and South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland in issuing an emergency declaration as forecasts showed Florence dumping historic amounts of rain - potentially 37 trillion litres - on the southern states.
Forecasters said conditions will only get more lethal as the storm smashes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and crawls slowly inland. That makes it hard to project how the region will ultimately be affected.
A storm surge of nine to 12 feet (2.7-3.6 metres) was expected along the North Carolina coast, Goldstein said, and some areas could receive as much as 40 inches (one metre) of rain.
The National Weather Service is forecasting "significant" river flooding, especially in the northeastern portion of the state. But it will be a few years before this river data can be integrated into models like ADCIRC, according to Ed Clark, the director of NWS's National Water Center.
Duke Energy says of the 20,000 people in place to help get the lights on after the storm, 1,200 came from Florida. NOAA notes: "Little change in strength is expected before the center reaches the coast, with weakening expected after the center moves inland".
North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature enacted House Bill 819 (pdf)-which became law without any action by then-Gov. Her team manages 32 wild horses living in the Rachel Carson Reserve near Beaufort, North Carolina.
United States television networks said 7pm to 7am curfews had been put in place in several towns surrounding Myrtle Beach.
A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore.
It read: "The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline". "But we still bought the meals we were going to have and requested that the hotel serve those meals to the people who have been relocated, on us".
"There definitely is a risk, but the horses are smart".
Wilmington resident Julie Terrell said she was concerned after walking to breakfast past a row of shops fortified with boards, sandbags and hurricane shutters. Except - and we don't mean to jinx it - but the storm *is* heading further south from here and the wind did die down a bit so who is to say it didn't work entirely?