Florence was one of two major storms threatening millions of people on opposite sides of the world.
The storm's arrival brought a 105 miles per hour wind gust at the NWS office about 7 a.m. Friday, said meteorologist Jordan Baker.
The storm is some 400 miles (645 kilometers) wide.
Florence's fatality count rose to seven on September 15, as the storm continued hammering the Carolinas and surrounding states.
Florence "will continue to track slowly inland through the Carolinas this weekend", the National Weather Service said in its 8:00 a.m. update Saturday.
At least four people have died, and authorities fear the toll will go higher.
Hurricane Florence continues to assault North and SC in the USA, with five persons reported dead on Friday night due to powerful, gusting winds and extremely heavy rain. More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury.
The National Hurricane Center said Florence is expected to be re-categorised as a tropical depression by the time it moves into the mid-Atlantic states and New England in the middle of next week.
Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge moved in for an extended stay along the coast. "Warmer oceans mean more energy to intensify tropical storms and hurricanes", he said.
As the storm stalled, forecasters warned "torrential rains will come:" an additional 20 to 25 inches in eastern North Carolina and up to 15 inches inland.
In New Bern, along the coast, aerial photos show homes completely surrounded by water, with rescuers using inflatable boats to go house to house to remove people. He said five deaths were confirmed from the storm and "several others are under investigation". "Surviving this storm with be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience". But the center continued to warn about the threat of water. Electricity remained out for much of the city, with power lines lying across many roads like wet strands of spaghetti.
Prisoners were affected, too.
There were 974,000 homes in the Carolinas without power on Saturday morning.
The evacuation order for the Lowcountry is lifted as Tropical Storm Florence moves out of the coast areas and into the Midlands.
Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in. Ocean water flowed between homes and on to streets on the Outer Banks; waves crashed against wooden fishing piers. That should spell some relief for the inundated areas of Onslow county, but unfortunately puts the city of Wilmington, southeast coastal communities of North Carolina and northeast areas of SC in the line of fire instead.
A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore.
The storm made landfall Friday at 7:15 a.m. ET just south of Wrightsville Beach - about 6.5 miles due east for Wilmington, North Carolina.
Flooding and a strong storm surge prompted more than 90 calls to the emergency operation center in Craven County, N.C., for residents trapped in vehicles and homes, spokeswoman Amber Parker said. It hit the coast as a Category 1 storm with 90 miles per hour maximum sustained winds, the NWS said. Roberts says the storm surge continues to increase as Florence passes over the area.
President Donald Trump praised the "incredible job" being done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency workers and first-responders.
As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.
"We'll operate without power; we have candles".
Fisher said the hospital has about 1,800 employees, including medical and support staff, stationed at the hospital during the storm.
One resident, 67-year-old Linda Smith, told the MailOnline: "We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now".