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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Millions of people are boarding up and evacuating as Hurricane Dorian continues to move northwest toward the Carolina coast Wednesday morning.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the center of Dorian, which is now a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, will move near the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina Thursday through Friday morning. Forecasters expect the Carolinas to experience tropical storm conditions Wednesday before the center of the storm reaches the area.
As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, Dorian continues to lash the east coast of central Florida. The core of the hurricane is moving nearly parallel to the east coast of central Florida.
Hurricane Dorian is moving nearly parallel to the Florida coastline as it moves north-northwest at 8 mph. Despite its slow movement to the north, this is the fastest the storm has moved in more than a day.
“The eyewall of Dorian continues to move away from Grand Bahama Island. However, dangerous winds and life-threatening storm surge will continue over that island through this evening,” the National Hurricane Center said.
The powerful storm was parked over the Bahamas for over 24 hours before starting to crawl toward the northwest. Dorian is expected to stay offshore as it moves along the Florida coast. The storm is “lashing the east coast of Florida,” the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm is still packing sustained of 105 mph with higher gusts. According to the National Hurricane Center, hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center, while tropical-storm-force winds extend about 175 miles from Dorian’s center.
First Warn chief meteorologist Brad Panovich says the biggest concerns for the Carolinas will be along the coast with the combination of heavy rain, wind and storm surge. Panovich said there is a growing consensus among computer models tracking where Dorian will head next.
“Forecast models are so tightly clustered it’s insane,” Panovich said. “I’m starting to worry about eastern North Carolina, that’s where the concern comes in because it’s just too close to call. We could see a landfall in North Carolina.”
Hurricane Dorian latest conditions
As of the 6 a.m. ET advisory from the National Hurricane Center
LOCATION: ABOUT 90 MILES EAST OF DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS: 105 MPH
MOVEMENT: NORTH-NORTHWEST AT 8 MPH
Panovich says confidence in the models means forecasters can be more focused on the impacts when the storm does eventually reach the Carolina coast.
The high risk along the coast could result in 5-10 feet of storm surge, 10-15 inches of rain and 50-75 mph winds as the storm churns north.
There is some good news for those inland, as Panovich says Dorian won’t be a major wind event. The impacts will be spread further out, but the highest impact will be on the immediate coast.
Panovich says the storm will cause sound-side flooding when it reaches the Outer Banks and affect areas that were devastated by Hurricane Florence, such as New Bern and Havelock.
Panovich says Dorian will reach Hilton Head around 9 a.m. Wednesday with gusting winds. The storm will move north up the coast and reach Myrtle Beach by Thursday night into Friday. Dorian is expected to reach the Outer Banks Friday morning, with a possible landfall coming near Hatteras as some of the models start to disagree on the storm’s exact track.
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.
INTERACTIVE MAP: Track Hurricane Dorian
Watches and warnings
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…
* Jupiter Inlet FL to Surf City NC
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* North of Surf City NC to Poquoson VA, including Hampton Roads
* Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds
* Neuse and Pamlico Rivers
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* North of Savannah River to Surf City NC
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* North of Ponte Vedra Beach FL to Savannah River
* North of Surf City NC to the North Carolina/Virginia border
* Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands in the northwestern Bahamas
* North of Ponte Vedra Beach FL to Savannah River
* Sebastian Inlet FL to Ponte Vedra Beach FL
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* The North Carolina/Virginia border to Chincoteague VA
* Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point southward
“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.