Heavy rain, wind gusts and rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence swamped the Carolinas as the massive storm crawled toward the coast, threatening millions of people in its path with record rainfall and punishing surf.
The Miami-based center says the center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later today.
"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.
"The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves, " it said.
About 800 flights in the region have been canceled ahead of the storm, CNN reported.
Roughly 1 million people are under evacuation orders.
This landfall has been a long time coming: The hurricane arrived more than two weeks after the National Hurricane Center issued its first advisory for the storm.
So far, a state of emergency has been declared in five states - South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland and Washington DC. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on the federal level Tuesday for the Carolinas and Virginia.
Structures, such as this one in Swansboro, collapsed as the storm surge and hurricane force winds whipped through the area.
Developing Story | Pope Francis meets with bishops about the abuse crisis
The private meeting held in the tiny state's Apostolic Palace included the three top officials from the body that runs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo, the president, Archbishop Jose H.
Robert Scott, economist, says fears over Donald Trump tariffs overblown
His remarks come as China and the United States may return to the negotiating table with the threat of new USA tariffs looming. Trump said last week that he also had tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of goods ready "on short notice if I want".
Manafort Reaches Plea Deal With Special Counsel Mueller
Judge TS Ellis declared a mistrial on 10 other charges after the jury failed to reach a verdict. The allegations do not involve his work with the Trump presidential campaign.
A hurricane warning is in effect for South Santee River, SC, north to Duck, NC, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.
Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for north of Duck, NC, to Cape Charles Light, VA, and for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.
"Right now we have extreme flooding and storm surge".
The hurricane centre also said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as the storm neared shore. The highest surge will coincide with high tide. Joyce, too, is expected to weaken at the start of the work week. As in past storm events, these animal are taken to other shelters including those in the NY area. The fear is that during that slow march west, it'll drop torrential rains, flooding low-lying areas and overwhelming rivers.
Florence is one of four named storms in the Atlantic at the moment. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands face possible isolated amounts of 3 inches.
Journalist Brian L Kahn (@blkahn) tweeted: "This @weatherchannel visualization of storm surge is an incredible and sobering use of technology to show what hurricanes like Florence can do". That's about half the amount Hurricane Harvey - the largest rainfall event in USA history - dropped on the greater Houston area past year. That system could develop into a tropical depression by Friday.
Another disturbance is swirling around in the Gulf of Mexico. The NHC is encouraging officials in northeastern Mexico, Texas and Louisiana to monitor its progress.