As of Thursday morning, forecast models showed the storm bringing more rain than originally thought - officials now predict 35 inches of rain will fall in a two-day period as Florence, a Category 2 storm with 100 miles per hour sustained winds as of Thursday evening, will stall over Wilmington after making landfall early Friday morning.
Up to 10 million people lie in the path of the storm, which still poses a risk to life and property, although it has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane.
Florence is moving northwest at about 10 miles per hour. By Friday morning Florence had already sapped power to almost 450,000 customers in the Carolinas, emergency officials said. "A turn to the west-northwest and west at an even slower forward speed is expected tonight and Friday, and a slow west-southwestward motion is forecast Friday night and Saturday". New Bern is about 32 miles north of Morehead City, North Carolina, and 101 miles southeast of Raleigh.
Florence could do more than $170bn (£130bn) of damage and affect almost 759,000 homes and businesses, says analytics firm CoreLogic.
Just inland in North Carolina, the hurricane is pushing water up the sounds and rivers, Joel Cline, a tropical storm program coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told Fox News.
Storm surge can be the deadliest part of a hurricane, and is only partially affected by wind speeds. Flash floods will be a major problem for some areas, and the overall flooding could be catastrophic.
Additional watches and warnings may be issued, so stay tuned.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for... He said Thursday he has activated 2,800 National Guard troops to respond to the storm.
STORM SURGE: The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other risky conditions.
The outer rain bands of the massive storm will continue moving over the Outer Banks, lashing the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that are a popular tourist destination.
Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances. All interests in these areas should complete preparations and follow any advice given by local officials. Heavy rainfall began after dark.
Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC could see 20 to 30 inches of rainfall; some isolated areas could see 40 inches. The center is now about 100 miles from North Carolina.
Ken Graham, the director of the NHC, said: "It truly is really about the whole size of this storm".
The hurricane centre's best estimate was that Florence's eye would blow ashore as early as early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.
Areas that will be particularly susceptible to tropical storm conditions will be our far southeastern zones.
In North Carolina, Florence is expected to dump up to 40 inches of rain and storm surge will be high.
These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.