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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The center of Hurricane Dorian was 20 miles from the Carolina coast on Thursday evening, with landfall expected in eastern North Carolina on Friday.
At 8 p.m., Dorian was at a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 100 mph as it spun about 30 miles south of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and 60 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina.
The Category 2 storm brought tornadoes, heavy rain, and high winds to the area on Thursday.
Despite the downgrade from a Category 3 storm, Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich said the impacts for the Carolinas remain the same.
“It doesn’t really change the impacts at all,” Panovich said. “It’s really not that big of a deal; we’re talking about 5 miles per hour.”
The risk of tornadoes amped up on Thursday.
The National Weather Service reported multiple touchdowns across southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. Panovich said the tornado threat will continue throughout the day.
“It causes things to spin up ahead and northeast of the storm,” Panovich said. “So everything ahead and to the right of Dorian on the map will have a big threat.”
Late Thursday afternoon, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said 68 shelters had been opened with about 2,200 people in them. Food and water were distributed to communities, and many areas were enforcing curfews.
“If your area is feeling the impacts of Dorian, please stay home and safe. Don’t drive through standing or moving water,” said Governor Cooper. “We are feeling the storm’s force, but it has only started. We have a long night ahead of us.”
Cooper said more than 500 National Guard soldiers had been activated, and the state had more than 200 vehicles, boats, and crews ready for rescue missions in eastern North Carolina.
“Remember these tips: Don’t drive on flood-covered roads. Obey barriers when present. Don’t run generators indoors. Be wary of carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Cooper.
Parts of North Carolina near Wilmington saw 9-inches of rain and tornadoes, according to Cooper.
Forecasters believe the storm is likely to make landfall late Thursday into Friday. Panovich said Dorian could actually make multiple landfalls in North Carolina.
“Dorian probably could make landfall in three places,” Panovich said. “As it moves to the northeast, those parts jut out into the ocean and they’re able to be hit by the storm as it pushes in that direction. That’s why we’re probably going to see a landfall in those areas.”
South Carolina Emergency Management reported over 200,000 power outages related to the storm Thursday morning. In North Carolina, the number is around 3,000.
The National Weather Service in Wilmington shared a video from Pender County where a tornado touched down near a fire department Thursday morning. There were multiple tornado warnings issued in coastal areas as the outer bands of Dorian move across southeastern North Carolina.
The NOAA reported wind gusts of 75-80 mph in and around Charleston Harbor. A wind gust of 86 mph was recorded in Winyah Bay, South Carolina.
The biggest impacts from Dorian in the Carolinas will be storm surge and flooding, Panovich said.
“As we go through the day, the surge and high tide, water is really coming into Myrtle Beach and tonight it will come into Wilmington and tomorrow eastern North Carolina,” Panovich explained.
Several roads in the Charleston area were closed Thursday morning due to flooding and high tide wasn’t expected until early afternoon.
In Charlotte, Sprinkle said we’ll see minimal to no impact from Dorian as it moves up the coast. Areas east of I-77 could see wind gusts around 30-40 mph, Sprinkle said. Those areas include Monroe, Matthews, Mint Hill, Albemarle and toward Rockingham and Wadesboro.
Hurricane Dorian latest conditions
As of the 8 p.m. ET advisory from the National Hurricane Center
LOCATION: ABOUT 30 MILES SOUTH OF CAPE FEAR, NC
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS: 100 MPH
MOVEMENT: NORTHEAST AT 10 MPH
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.
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 vacuate 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 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…
* Cape Fear to Poquoson VA
* Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds
* Neuse and Pamlico Rivers
* Hampton Roads
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* South Santee River to the North Carolina/Virginia border
* Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* North Carolina/Virginia border to Fenwick Island DE
* Chesapeake Bay from Drum Point southward
* Tidal Potomac south of Cobb Island
* Woods Hole to Sagamore Beach MA
* Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard MA
“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.