As of 11 a.m. EDT Thursday, the system was a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds, churning slowly about 145 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Here's what to expect from the hurricane through the weekend:
Thursday afternoon and evening
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. The islands could see storm surge up to 13 feet, as well as over 30 inches of rainfall in the span of just a few days.
Tropical-force winds extend 200 miles from the middle of the storm, meaning coastal North Carolina is already feeling their power. Winds will continue to pick up through Thursday afternoon and evening. Tornadoes are also possible across eastern North Carolina as the storm moves in and a tornado watch has been issued through 9 p.m. Thursday.
Hurricane-force winds, which stretch up to 80 miles from the storm's center, will be felt in North and South Carolina by Thursday night.
Though the hurricane is expected to slow considerably, it's on track to make landfall in southern North Carolina Friday morning as a Category 2 storm.
As Florence roars ashore, it will bring devastating storm surge, potentially pushing water inland up to a story high. The surge will be compounded by destructive waves fueled by the hurricane's strong winds.
If landfall coincides with high tide, the consequences could be especially devastating.
Friday night into Saturday night
Florence is expected to stall over the Carolinas and remain for nearly a day, somewhat reminiscent of how Hurricane Harvey hovered above Houston, Texas, last year.
Though the storm will weaken as it moves above land, the same areas will be hammered by wind and rain for hours. Up to 40 inches of rain could be possible in certain areas along the Carolina border, but many places could see at least 20 inches.
The sustained windy conditions will likely lead to widespread power outages as trees topple onto electrical wires, while the heavy rainfall will cause calamitous flooding.
“Put simply, Florence is a ‘Category 5 #flood threat,'” The Weather Channel posted on Twitter.
Sunday into next week
Florence, significantly weakened, will move inland before swinging upward to dump rain on the Appalachians and Northeast.