The National Weather Service says rain, along with heightened waves and swells have starting hitting the coast as Hurricane Irene approaches.
Meteorologist Hal Austin says North Carolina's Outer Banks have started seeing six to nine-foot waves early Friday.
The first rain from Irene is reaching the Carolinas as the massive storm trudges toward the East Coast.
National Weather Service meteorologist Rachel Zouzias says rain carried by Irene's outer bands was reaching the southeastern part of North Carolina. Rain is also falling in South Carolina.
For hundreds of miles, as many as 65 million people along the densely populated East Coast are warily waiting for a dangerous hurricane that has the potential to inflict billions of dollars in damages anywhere within that urban sprawl that arcs from Washington and Baltimore through Philadelphia, New York, Boston and beyond.
North Carolina is just first in line along the Eastern Seaboard -- home to some of the nation's most heavily populated areas and some of its priciest real estate.