• has sustained wind speeds of 90 mph, and is hovering less than 40 miles off the coast. It is due to make landfall later on Friday.
  • Areas of the North Carolina coast have recorded flood waters as deep as 6.3 ft already. A total of 40 inches of rain could fall over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
  • Thousands of people are in shelters while millions of homes are under official watches or warnings for extreme weather.
  • The NHC says the hurricane will not weaken much until later in the weekend when it starts to turn inland.

Hurricane Florence has arrived on the East Coast of the US, causing massive floods in what the National Hurricane Center has warned could be a "catastrophic" situation.

As of 4 a.m. Friday, the storm was 35 miles off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. Hurricane-force winds with a maximum sustained speed of 90 mph are lashing the coast, where up to 40 inches of rain and a storm surge 11 feet high surge are expected in some areas, according to the NHC.

Hurricane Florence is expected to move across North Carolina and eastern South Carolina on Friday and Saturday. It will not weaken much until it turns inland over the weekend, forecasters said.

These images, recorded by a

Related content

Footage from North Carolina shows massive flooding and high winds

Photos and videos shared on social media showed dangerous conditions in North Carolina overnight.

Related content

Related content

Related content

Related content

The most extreme conditions could be seen on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and on riverfront cities which were hit hard by storm surge waters forced inland.

NBC meteorologist Bill Karins shared an image of the levels of flooding in New Bern.

Related content

Florence's wind speed mean it is now make it a Category 1 hurricane, weaker than it was when further out at sea.

But the National Weather Service has consistently warned that the storm is no less dangerous even as the wind speed falls, as most of the danger will come from the rain and floods.

Related content

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned of impending disaster as the center approaches the state, the Associated Press reported.

"The worst of the storm is not yet here but these are early warnings of the days to come,” he said. “Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience."

Millions of people are affected

Governors of five states have declared states of emergency: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland.

More than 80,000 people are already without power and more than 12,000 people in shelters, the Associated Press reported. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

Mandatory evacuation orders were in place in coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, affecting a total of about 1.7 million people, according to the Associated Press. It is not clear, however, how many people did evacuate. Millions of others have been stockpiling supplies such as gas cans, generators, plywood, and sand bags.

The homes of than 10 million people were under official watches or warnings for hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

Related content

Read more of Business Insiders hurricane coverage:

  • More than 1,000 flights have been canceled and nearly a dozen airports shut down as the East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence
  • 'Watch out, America!': Astronauts in space photographed Hurricane Florence, and they say the view is 'chilling'
  • Hurricane Florence could dump up to 40 inches of rain on parts of the Carolinas — here's why the deluge may be so intense
  • Watch storm conditions on these livestreams of North and South Carolina beaches in Hurricane Florence's path
  • Hurricane Florence is a Category 1 storm — here's what those labels really mean
  • The 14 most important things you should do to prepare for a hurricane