Reporters note: This article was corrected at 2 p.m. Sept. 3, to correct totals for storm surge projections. Severe storm surge is forecast with Hurricane Dorian, particularly in the Down East area of Carteret County. The article also mistakenly reported Dorian was a Category 3 hurricane at the time of the 11 a.m. briefing. This was based on an old National Hurricane Center advisory; the 11 a.m. advisory didn't include a category for Dorian.
NEWPORT — Hurricane Dorian is slowly resuming its approach, and forecasters expect it will be off the North Carolina coast sometime Thursday into early Friday.
The National Weather Service’s weather forecasting office in Newport issued a briefing at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, the latest briefing available. According to WFO meteorologists, there’s a high risk of heavy rainfall and flooding from Dorian in Carteret County, as well as a moderate risk of storm surge and high winds, but a low risk of tornadoes.
Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center issued its own advisory at 11 a.m. Tuesday, the latest advisory available from the hurricane center. NHC meteorologists said as of 11 a.m., Dorian is 45 miles northeast of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island and 105 miles east of Fort Pierce, Fla.
The NHC has issued a storm surge watch from South Santee River, S.C. to Cape Lookout National Seashore, meaning there's a possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland during the next 48 hours. A hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area in the next 48 hours, has been issued from South Santee River, S.C., to Duck, as well as for the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds.
The NHC said Dorian has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, and is moving northwest at 2 mph. Its minimum central barometric pressure is 28.2 inches.
Storm surge is a noteworthy risk from hurricanes along the coast. As such, the Coastal Emergency Risks Assessment, co-founded by UNC Institute of Marine Sciences Director Dr. Rick Luettich, uses a storm surge modeling program developed by Dr. Luettich and his colleagues to forecast potential storm-surge flooding tropical storms and hurricanes may cause.
According to the storm surge model as of Tuesday, at the time of maximum water height the northern Down East region of Carteret County is at risk for the most storm surge flooding, up to 9.5 feet above sea level. This region includes the Merrimon community and Cedar Island. Additional severe flooding is possible in the Neuse River and its tributaries, including Clubfoot Creek, Adams Creek, South River and Turnagain Bay.
Additional storm surge is forecast in the lower area of Carteret County as well. Up to 4.5 feet is forecast in Harlowe Creek, up to 5.5 feet in Newport River, up to 6 feet in western Bogue Sound and up to 8 feet in northern Core Sound.
The NHC forecasts Dorian will move slightly faster towards the northwest or north-northwest later Tuesday and Tuesday night. A turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn to the north-northeast Thursday morning.
The hurricane center forecasts Dorian will move “dangerously close” to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening, then reach the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, finally coming near or passing over the North Carolina coast late Thursday.
The Newport WFO said in its briefing prolonged periods of heavy rainfall could lead to flash flooding Wednesday into Friday anywhere across eastern North Carolina, with the highest totals expected for coastal areas. There’s also the potential for life-threatening storm surge along the North Carolina coast Wednesday night through Friday.
WFO forecasters also said there’s the potential for life-threatening winds and wind damage Wednesday night through Friday, as well as a potential for increased tornado activity. Very dangerous to extreme marine conditions are likely Wednesday night through Friday in all coastal and nearshore waters.
WFO forecasters warned in their briefing there’s a high risk for rip currents and hazardous seas for eastern North Carolina. They advise residents and others on the coast not to focus on the hurricane track alone or the category.
“Impacts will occur well away from the center (of Dorian),” the WFO forcasters said. “Remember the category of the storm is only related to wind; it says nothing about the impacts of heavy rain, storm surge, tornadoes, etc.”
The next WFO briefing will be released 7 p.m. Tuesday. Briefings are available at weather.gov/mhx/tropical.
The next NHC advisory will be released at 2 p.m. Tuesday. NHC advisories and other information are available at nhc.noaa.gov.
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-726-7081 ext. 206, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.