Landfall is the event of a tropical cyclone (also known as a hurricane) or a waterspout coming onto land after being over water. When a tornadic waterspout makes landfall it can be classified as a tornado, and then causes damage to buildings. When a fair weather waterspout makes landfall it quickly dissipates as it loses its energy; the water.
A tropical cyclone is classified as making landfall when the center of the storm moves over land; in tropical cyclones this can be when the eye moves over land. This is where most of the damage occurs because while the storm is over water there is a minimal chance for damage, except if its rainbands are over land; this can cause severe flooding especially when the system is slow moving or stationary. Effects when a tropical cyclone makes landfall are; the storm surge peaks, the core of strong winds comes on shore, and heavy flooding rains move over land. These coupled with high surf can cause major beach erosion. In low lying areas the storm surge can stay inland for a long time and mix with chemicals already in the area to create a toxic mess. When a tropical cyclone makes landfall, the eye "closes", surf decreases, and winds decrease as the cyclone dissipates. Damages inland include flooding rains, gusty winds, and severe weather associated with the cyclone's remnant thunderstorms.
A "landfall" should not be confused with a "direct hit" as a direct hit is where the core of high winds (or eyewall) comes onshore but the center of the storm stays off shore. The effects of this are similar but storm surges can be greatly diminished. These effects are; high surf, heavy flooding rains, water build up along the coast with minor storm surge, coastal beach erosion, high winds, and possibly severe weather.