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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hurricane Dorian is finally moving northwestward but is growing in size, the National Weather Center reports.
The powerful storm was parked over the Bahamas for over 24 hours with sustained winds of 120 mph and even stronger gusts.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Dorian is now moving northwest at 2 mph. Forecasters expect Dorian to begin its northward turn Tuesday with the storm making its way toward the United States Atlantic coast by Wednesday. Hurricane Dorian is expected to reach the coast of South Carolina late Wednesday into Thursday.
Maximum winds from Dorian are sustained at 110 mph with higher gusts. According to the National Hurricane Center, hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center, while tropical-storm-force winds extend about 150 miles from Dorian’s center.
The NHC said wind gusts of tropical storm force are now occurring along the Treasure Coast of Florida.
First Warn chief meteorologist Brad Panovich thinks the biggest concerns for the Carolinas will be storm surge and flooding along the coast. Charlotte has about a 15% chance of seeing tropical-storm-force winds as Dorian moves north, Panovich says.
Here’s the latest on Hurricane Dorian
As of the 11 a.m. ET advisory from the National Hurricane Center
LOCATION: ABOUT 45 MILES NORTH OF FREEPORT GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND, ABOUT 105 MILES EAST OF FORT PIERCE FLORIDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS: 110 MPH
MOVEMENT: NORTHWEST AT 2 MPH
Even though Dorian could stay offshore, the impacts on eastern North Carolina could be devastating, Panovich said.
“The concern is going to be storm surge,” Panovich said. “Looking at 4 to 7 feet of storm surge up the coast of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Eastern North Carolina, the winds will be wrapping around with sound-side flooding.
“It’s going to be pouring rain, the water will try to go back out to sea and it will run into the surge and you get backups and big-time flooding. Some of the biggest impacts could be in eastern North Carolina. This is not a good setup for eastern North Carolina, even with the strongest winds being offshore.”
The high risk along the coast could result in 4-7 feet of storm surge, up to 10 inches of rain and 50-75 mph winds as the storm churns north.
In Charlotte, Panovich said the impacts won’t be felt much at all from Dorian.
“It’s not zero, but it’s single-percentage worries for winds and heavy rain in Charlotte,” Panovich explained. “The highest percentages of hurricane-force winds in the Carolinas are in Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Hatteras. It’s at 20%, but that will probably go up.”
Sunday evening, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued mandatory evacuations for people living along the coastline of South Carolina, as Hurricane Dorian is expected to affect the state by midweek. State troopers began the reversal of all lanes on I-26 out of Charleston Monday morning with evacuations taking effect at 12 p.m.
“Water, water, water is our concern,” said Panovich, urging anyone told to evacuate to listen. “You run from the water, you hide from the wind.”
North Carolina issued a state of emergency ahead of potential impacts from Hurricane Dorian. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster also declared a state of emergency because of the threat of Hurricane Dorian.
Later on Saturday, the city of Charleston declared a state of emergency as well, to ensure the city is fully prepared for emergency operations. The Municipal Emergency Operations Center will be activated Sunday at 8 a.m. and will remain open as needed throughout the storm.
According to the National Weather Service, there is an increasing risk of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina during the middle of the week.
The National Hurricane Center said slow weakening is forecast, but fluctuations in intensity could occur over the next couple of days. Nevertheless, Dorian is expected to stay a powerful hurricane over the next few days, according to the NHC.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:
Lantana FL to Savannah River
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:
- North of Deerfield Beach FL to south of Lantana FL
- Savannah River to South Santee River SC
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:
- Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands in the northwestern Bahamas
- Jupiter Inlet FL to Ponte Vedra Beach FL
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:
- North of Deerfield Beach FL to Jupiter Inlet FL
- North of Ponte Vedra Beach FL to South Santee River SC
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
- North of Deerfield Beach FL to Jupiter Inlet FL
- North of Ponte Vedra Beach FL to Altamaha Sound GA
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:
- North of Golden Beach FL to Deerfield Beach FL
- Lake Okeechobee
Swells are likely to begin affecting the east-facing shores of the Bahamas, the Florida east coast, and the southeastern United States coast during the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Flooding will be a major concern for Florida. Rainfall rates, combined with storm surge, could result in life-threatening flash floods. Dorian is expected to produce 12 to 24 inches, isolated 30 inches, of rainfall totals for the Northwestern Bahamas alone.
NHC says Dorian is expected to produce 5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches, for the Coastal Carolinas.
Panovich said everyone living along the Southeast coast should be paying attention. The track could shift.
“Residents in these areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place and not focus on the exact forecast track of Dorian’s center,” according to the National Hurricane Center.