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‘Catastrophic’ Hurricane Dorian, with winds of 185 mph, may affect Carolinas for days

Dorian v. Florence: What are the differences between the two hurricanes?

ABC11 meteorologist Don Schwenneker talks about the different storm tracks of Hurricanes Florence and Dorian. Hurricane Florence resulted in major flooding across eastern NC and SC in 2018.
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ABC11 meteorologist Don Schwenneker talks about the different storm tracks of Hurricanes Florence and Dorian. Hurricane Florence resulted in major flooding across eastern NC and SC in 2018.

Now a Category 5 storm, Hurricane Dorian is expected to shift to the north and northeast, bringing the possibility of strong winds, heavy rain and rough surf to the Carolinas coast starting Tuesday.

As of 8 a.m. Sunday, Dorian was upgraded to Category 5, and maximum sustained wind speeds increased to 185 mph with higher gusts possible, according to a 2 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.

Because of its “devastating winds,” the NHC called Dorian a “catastrophic hurricane.”

The storm is the strongest hurricane in “modern records” to hit the northwestern Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. update Sunday.

At a Sunday evening news conference in Columbia, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued orders for evacuations, lane reversals in addition to closing schools and state government offices along the South Carolina coast.

Evacuations are ordered to begin Monday at noon, the same time lane reversals will take effect on Interstate 26 and US-278 among other roads and highways.

Schools and state offices are already closed Monday for Labor Day, and they will remain shuttered in the affected counties on Tuesday and longer, McMaster said.

The governor also ordered medical evacuation to begin immediately for residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals.

President Trump tweeted about the storm Sunday, saying it’s looking like one of the strongest hurricanes ever, and telling residents of the Carolinas and elsewhere to be careful.

The eye of the storm was moving over Great Abaco at of 5 p.m., but wind speeds reached 184 mph as the storm was bearing down, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm has slowed and is expected to slow more, prolonging its impacts on the Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. update.

This slow movement will continue for 48 hours before gradually picking up speed as it turns to the north and northeast, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm has also grown in size, now extending up to 45 miles from the center with tropical-storm force winds extending up to 140 miles, the National Hurricane Center says.

Coastal areas of South Carolina and North Carolina could feel the effects of Dorian through early Friday, according to the National Weather Service, which provided an update on the storm at 5 a.m. Sunday.

Between 5 and 10 inches of rain could fall, with some areas seeing up to 15 inches.

“This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods,” the National Hurricane Center said.

NC Governor Roy Cooper briefs reporters on preparations for a possible hit from Hurricane Dorian. Cooper gave his briefing from the Emergency Operations Center Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.

Tropical-storm force winds, or winds 39 mph or greater, could hit South Carolina at about 8 p.m. Tuesday and North Carolina at about 8 a.m. Wednesday, forecasters say.

Large swells and dangerous rip currents are expected to arrive in the Carolinas on Sunday, according to The Weather Channel.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington issued an advisory, saying rip currents will be “dangerous to anyone who enters the surf.”

The storm is expected to weaken after three days but will remain a hurricane for five days, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. update.

A video from Shore Beach Service on Hilton Head Island shows a strong rip current Aug. 31 near beach marker nine on the south end. The lifeguard service attributed the strong currents to Hurricane Dorian.

The governors of North Carolina and South Carolina have both declared a state of emergency.

“State assets are being mobilized now and Team South Carolina is working around the clock to be ready, if necessary,” S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement Saturday. “We encourage all South Carolinians who may be impacted by Hurricane Dorian to be vigilant and prepare now – there is no reason for delay.”

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper also said residents “should prepare, and listen to local leaders for updates on severe weather.”

Watch the ABC11 weather forecast for possible tracks and timetables for Hurricane Dorian making landfall.

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