And cameras aboard the International Space Station managed to catch incredible footage just a few minutes after the storm's landfall.
Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared a year ago for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath.
Yesterday, the European Space Agency released a short video of astronauts aboard the space station watching the storm out of the cupola armed with powerful cameras to capture its giant knot of storm clouds.
"And when the tide comes back up around noon, we will be inundated with additional storm surge", she said.
More than 485,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions", the hurricane center briefing said.
NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook the storm surges could push as far as 2 miles (3 km) inland.
"The worst of the storm is not yet here, but these are the early warnings of the days to come", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told reporters just before the hurricane made landfall.
"It's probably going to take another 24 hours" for Florence to pass through the Wilmington region, Reid Hawkins, science officer with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, said at 5 a.m. Friday.
The drugstore closed about 100 locations in mandatory evacuation areas in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
According to CNN meteorologists, as of early Friday morning, New Bern had already seen more than 10 feet of storm surge and more than 7 inches of rainfall.
Issac is expected to slowly drift through the eastern and central Caribbean waters through the weekend, not too far from Jamaica, but won't be much of a threat.
The tropical storm-force winds from Helene should begin impacting the Azores around 8 a.m. Monday.
"We'll operate without power; we have candles. We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family's pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband.