Dorian forecast to arrive late Thursday

Hurricane Dorian is forecast to arrive along North Carolina's Outer Banks late Thursday, bringing wind, heavy rain and life-threatening storm surge. (National Hurricane Center graphic)

NEWPORT — Hurricane Dorian is forecast to arrive off the coast later Thursday, and local forecasters have moved the heaviest rainfall totals further inland.

The National Weather Service’s Newport weather forecasting office issued a briefing at 6 a.m. Thursday. The National Hurricane Center also issued an advisory at 8 a.m. Both are the latest available.

According to the NHC’s advisory, Dorian is about 70 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C., and about 170 miles south-southwest of Wilmington. Dorian has maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and is moving north-northeast at 8 mph. Its minimum central barometric pressure is 28.32 inches. The hurricane is forecast to move over or near the North Carolina coast Thursday night and Friday.

The hurricane center has in effect a hurricane warning for the entire North Carolina coast, as well as both a hurricane warning and storm surge warning for the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds and Neuse and Pamlico rivers. Hurricane-force winds extend outward from Dorian’s center up to 60 miles, while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.

Up to 4-7 feet of storm surge is forecast from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to Duck, including the above mentioned sounds and rivers. From Duck to Poquoson, Va., 2-4 feet of storm surge is forecast.

Rainfall totals along the coastal Carolinas are forecast at 6-12 inches, with isolated areas possibly receiving up to 15 inches. The NHC said this may cause life-threatening flash floods.  

The Newport WFO said in its briefing that life-threatening storm surge inundation is expected through Friday along the oceanside of the coast, including Carteret County. This threat will transition north and to sound side areas as Dorian moves through the area. Low-lying roads may become impassible.

The WFO also forecast flooding rain, life-threatening winds and wind damage and an enhanced risk of tornadoes through Friday. Very dangerous to extreme marine conditions are also forecast through Saturday.

The WFO said water levels will rise very rapidly on the sounds, particularly the soundside Outer Banks, as the storm passes through. Large waves will enhance the storm surge in some areas, with major damage possible to marinas, docks and piers.

Storm surge inundation is forecast to being Thursday morning south of Cape Lookout, then expand north into the sounds and rivers by Thursday afternoon, into the night. The worst conditions are forecast for the Outer Banks for Friday.

With the forecast rain amounts, the Newport WFO said flash flooding is likely with Dorian, likely resulting in inundation of property, access routes being cut off and potential damage to infrastructure. Local NWS meteorologists forecast Carteret County may receive 8-10 inches total rainfall, with local higher amounts up to 15 inches possible. Flash flood risk is forecast to be highest Thursday night through Friday morning, with rain rates over 2 inches per hour at times.

The Newport WFO briefing said Carteret County has a high threat of life-threatening winds. Winds may reach up to 96 mph. Tree damage, fence damage, roof damage and damage to mobile homes are possible, and some roads may become impassible from large debris.

Several bridges, causeways and access routes may become impassable. Large areas may receive power and communication outages.

Local weather forecast information is available at weather.gov/newport, on Twitter at @NWSMoreheadCity, on Facebook at facebook.com/NWSMoreheadCity and on YouTube at youtube.com/user/NWSMoreheadCity.

The NHC advisories and other information are available at nhc.noaa.gov/.

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