Tens of thousands of people are already without power.
The driving winds and pelting rain of Hurricane Florence's western edge began to batter the Carolinas Thursday evening, giving the region a taste of what's to come as the monster storm moves ashore Friday.
"It was pitch black and I was just scared out of my mind", said Tracy Singleton, who with her family later drove through torrential rain and high winds from her home near New Bern to a hotel some almost 80 miles (130 km) away. "Stay on guard", Cooper said.
Several large trees had toppled in the city's historic district.
By late Thursday, people were, for better or for worse, locked into their decision: go or stay.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, that a "historic storm" would unleash rains and floods that would inundate nearly the entire state. Area colleges canceled classes but most will keep food service and health centers open, and some ordered evacuations from dormitories.
It has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, but forecasters say Hurricane Florence is still capable of delivering a lethal punch.
Southeastern coastal North Carolina and far northeastern SC are expected to get pelted with 20 to 30 inches of rain, and some isolated spots may get up to 40 inches in 48 hours. As it moves over land, the storm will slow down and begin to lose power. "Today the threat becomes a reality".
Hurricane Florence continues to expand in size. "To put this in context, we correctly predicted the full extent of Hurricane Harvey's economic damage to be $190 billion past year", AccuWeather founder and president Dr. Joel N. Myers said. Be SAFE! " Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
About midday on Thursday (local time), Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. Some of the few people still left in Nags Head on the Outer Banks took photos of angry waves topped with white froth.
"We're prepared", Kilbourne said. "Because it's Mother Nature".
One forecast from weather-tracking website Weathermodels.com predicts that over the next week, the Carolinas could see as much as 11 trillion gallons of rain. That is enough water to fill the Empire State Building almost 40,000 times.
Hurricane Florence turns deadly as it pounds Carolinas
The storm was expected to head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said. Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Eminem - Killshot Lyrics (Machine Gun Kelly Diss)
Eminem released a diss track directed at Machine Gun Kelly on Friday, Sept. 14, after Kelly dropped the track " Rap Devil " which took aim at Eminem .
Andrew Cuomo easily defeats Cynthia Nixon in NY gubernatorial primary
Cuomo frequently points out that education spending has increased since he took office, and is now at the highest level ever. A mailer from the state Democratic Party that suggested that Nixon is anti-Semitic also backfired for Cuomo.
More than 1 million Virginians and Carolinians are under mandatory evacuation orders, but there is little government officials can do to force people from their homes.
"It looks heavy outside", she said.
"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "Whether you have a house or not, when the storm comes it will bring everyone together".
And yet another tropical storm formed in the Atlantic Thursday night. North Carolina will likely see eight months' worth of rain in two to three days, said National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear in a video briefing.
As of the 7:45 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, the storm's center made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
He said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 200 miles out.
"Unfortunately, when storms hit is during our fall season", he said. But previous research has shown that the strongest hurricanes are getting wetter, more intense and intensifying faster because of human-caused climate change.
The hurricane's surge could cover large swathes of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft (3.3m) of seawater.
"If you're going to leave. you should leave now because time is running out", McMaster said. "I've got four cats inside the house". "They have a team where one will being there during the storm and they had me put on the team to come on after".
Authorities pushed back against any suggestion the storm's threat was exaggerated.
Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill said those violating the curfew without a valid reason will be subject to arrest, and City of Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said a curfew violation is a misdemeanor offense in the city.