Hurricane Florence came ashore with howling 90-mph winds Friday morning, producing life-threatening storm surges and hurricane-force winds as it moves through the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center said.
At 2 p.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 35 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Its maximum sustained winds are 75 mph — down since it made landfall as a strong Category 1 storm near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., which is a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the South Carolina state line, at 7:15 a.m.
Florence is crawling west at 5 mph.
The storm already has left more than 500,000 homes and businesses without power.
The hurricane is expected to move inland over parts of North Carolina and South Carolina on Friday and Saturday, “then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week.’’
Florence’s storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which dropped off from an alarming 140 mph — Category 4 — earlier in the week. Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland over the next few days as Florence crawls westward across the Carolinas all weekend.
The area is expected to get about as much rain in three days as Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd dropped in two weeks in 1999.