The Category 4 storm was expected to start hitting the North and SC coasts sometime Thursday or Friday, and should make landfall near Wilmington, N.C., early Saturday morning, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center.
The centre of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT) near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. But his partner, Emily Whisler, said she will remain behind at the university where she is a resident in the psychiatry program.
It was located 575 miles (925 kms) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving at 17 mph (28 kph) in a west-northwest direction.
Based on the 11 a.m. forecast for Hurricane Florence on Sept, 12 and acting on a recommendation from Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) officials, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in Georgia.
Here are some of the best images of Hurricane Florence by Gerst and Ricky Arnold, a fellow NASAastronaut who's also living on board the ISS.
Forecasters said conditions are still good for Florence, a Category 4 hurricane, to strengthen a little as it moves over very warm waters.
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How much rain with North Carolina and SC receive?
More than 400 hundred officers from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division will be stationed in the coastal areas to help assists evacuation and protect property.
A hurricane warning - meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours - is in effect for a long stretch of the coast, from the Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., which is part of the Outer Banks.
In Jacksonville, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the cinderblock structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse. Forecasters warn that millions could be affected by the hurricane, and have urged mass evacuations of areas within its path.
Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) is now in a Level 2 enhanced monitoring operation, officials told 11Alive. In South Carolina and inland parts of North Carolina, 5 to 10 inches of rain could fall, with 20 inches possible in some areas.
To hasten evacuations from coastal SC, officials reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so all major roads led away from shore.
Beth Burgess, director of Emergency Management for Athens-Clarke County, said her main concern was for the safety and well being of local residents. It's a big one'.
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FEMA has warned that while downgraded, the storm will still generate life threatening storm surge and rainfall in North and SC . A tweet from the NWS said the storm would be "a marathon vs. a sprint" as it hovered over the area dumping heavy rainfall.
The storm was about 880 miles east of the Lesser Antilles - a region still recovering from last year's powerful Hurricane Maria. Announcing his evacuation order, SC governor Henry McMaster said an estimated one million people would be fleeing the coast.
About 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did, officials said. Footage shows a pier and a beach in Nags Head, North Carolina, being hit with heavy surf as the storm rolls into the area.
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Remnants of Hurricane Helene head for Wales
Met Éireann said: "Current indications are that (ex-) tropical storm Helene will approach Ireland's south coast during Tuesday. A yellow - "be aware" - warning, which also covers parts of South Ayrshire, was issued by the Met Office today.