4 a.m. update: Hurricane Dorian brings strong winds, heavy rain to Carolina coast

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hurricane Dorian was upgraded to a Category 3 storm late Wednesday night as it moved along the Southeast coast.

“Dorian is moving at about 10 degrees so the northeast turn is starting,” said Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich.

As of 4 a.m. Thursday, Dorian had 115 mph sustained winds with life-threatening storm surge and significant coastal flooding expected along Southeast and Mid-Atlantic coasts.

Earlier Wednesday, a hurricane warning was expanded along the entire Carolina coastline as first rains from Hurricane Dorian arrived in South Carolina. 

Millions of people were boarding up and evacuating as Dorian continued toward the Carolina coast.

First Warn Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich said Dorian will make “significant impacts” on the Carolina coasts through Friday. 

The National Hurricane Center expects the center of Dorian to move over the Carolinas Thursday and Friday. 

A slow weakening is expected during the next few days. However, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during this time.

The powerful storm was parked over the Bahamas for over 24 hours before starting to crawl toward the northwest. Dorian was expected to stay offshore as it moved along the Florida coast. The storm was “lashing the east coast of Florida,” the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm was packing sustained of 115 mph with higher gusts. According to the National Hurricane Center, hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 60 miles from the center, while tropical-storm-force winds extended about 195 miles from Dorian’s center.

Panovich said the biggest concerns for the Carolinas will be along the coast with the combination of heavy rain, wind and storm surge. First Warn Forecaster Larry Sprinkle said the most dangerous part of a storm is the 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.”

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Hurricane Dorian latest conditions

As of the 4 a.m. ET advisory from the National Hurricane Center



Panovich said 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 that are inland, as Panovich said 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 said 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. 

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Forecast timing

First Warn Meteorologist Chris Mulcahy said the outer bands of Dorian moved closer to the shoreline in Georgia and South Carolina with rain in Charleston Wednesday morning. The heaviest rain was expected to reach Charleston Wednesday evening through Thursday morning.

The storm will move north up the coast and reach Myrtle Beach by Thursday night into Friday. Dorian was 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. 

On Sunday evening, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued mandatory evacuations for people living along the coastline of South Carolina. 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.”

RELATED: Mandatory evacuations ordered for entire South Carolina coast, lane reversals for I-26

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 storm threat.

On Saturday, the city of Charleston declared a state of emergency as well to ensure the city was fully prepared for emergency operations. The Municipal Emergency Operations Center activated Sunday at 8 a.m. and will remain open as needed throughout the storm.

According to the National Weather Service, there was 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.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Track Hurricane Dorian

Watches and warnings

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for… 

* Mouth of St. Mary’s River to Poquoson VA 

* Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds 

* Neuse and Pamlico Rivers 

* Hampton Roads

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for… 

* North of Savannah River to the North Carolina/Virginia border 

* Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for… 

* Mouth of St. Mary’s River to Savannah River

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for… 

* Mouth of St. Mary’s River to Savannah River 

* North Carolina/Virginia border to Chincoteague VA 

* Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point southward

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for… 

* North of Chincoteague VA to Fenwick Island DE 

* Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point to Drum Point 

* Tidal Potomac south of Cobb Island

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“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.

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