Already some roads were flooded. 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.
In Wilmington, resident Michael Wilson fortified his home against the wind and rain, and anxious.
But the biggest danger could be life-threatening storm surges.
Normally when we talk about the potential for hurricane damage, we talk about the impact of storm surges and high winds - both of which are, to be sure, incredibly risky in their own right. Storm winds could intensify through the day and tonight, but weaken slightly Thursday as it nears the coast.
Authorities reversed the flow of traffic on the eastbound lanes of many highways to help residents evacuate and move inland more quickly, and that will continue in some areas for a while Thursday.
Most of those cancellations are tied to the approaching hurricane, now a Category 2 storm with winds expected onshore late Thursday at more than 80 miles per hour.
Another 8 million people live in areas covered by hurricane and tropical storm warnings.
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They are also concerned about his argument in a 2009 legal article that a sitting president should be immune to prosecution. In total, some 22 people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct by the police during the highly publicised event.
Florence is lashing the state with "heavy rainbands with tropical-storm-force winds spreading across the Outer Banks and Coastal Southeastern North Carolina", the briefing said. Widespread rainfall amounts could reach 152mm to 300mm, spurring flooding.
The storm is expected to affect airports in Georgia and Virginia.
Hurricane Florence is predicted to creep across the coast from North Carolina to SC, drenching a wide area after making landfall late Thursday or early Friday.
According to ABCNews.com, the National Hurricane Center said Florence was moving northwest at about 12 miles per hour and located 170 miles southeast of North Carolina and about 220 miles southeast of Myrtle Beach.
Hurricane Florence has weakened slightly to a Category 2 storm, but don't be fooled, it's still incredibly risky.
Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren, of Savannah, Georgia, crashes into waves in the surf bolstered by the incoming Hurricane Florence on the south beach of Tybee Island, Georgia.
The last time the USA capital declared a state of emergency was in January 2016 when a winter storm dubbed "Snowzilla" blanketed the capital region in knee-deep snow.
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Supreme Court nominee was asked the very direct question Thursday evening by Senator Cory Booker , Democrat of New Jersey. Testimony is expected from witnesses who will testify regarding Kavanaugh's fitness for the position.
The coastal surge from Florence could leave the eastern tip of North Carolina under more than 9 feet (2.75 meters) of water in spots, projections showed. A surge of at least 4 feet is predicted for a much larger area.
Services and flights have been suspended on Thursday and Friday at Wilmington International Airport on North Carolina's coast. The more it hovers just off shore, the more potentially deadly storm surge it could push on-shore.
"A lot of our storefronts are boarded up", said Lynn Davis, town manager for Belhaven which sits at sea level in northeastern North Carolina.
"Floodwaters may enter numerous structures, and some may become uninhabitable or washed away", the Weather Service warned.
This is when Hurricane Florence is expected to be closest to us.
Though the Waffle House may be open now, it's unlikely that will be the case in the days to come.
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He likened it to another controversial, landmark Supreme Court decision, the Miranda ruling about the rights of criminal suspects. After more questions from senators on Thursday, the hearing is set to wrap up on Friday with testimony from outside witnesses.
Forecasters expect Florence to hit the Carolinas early in the morning on September 14. The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge". They also instituted a 24-hour curfew.
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