North Carolina coast told to shelter in place as Hurricane Dorian hits with high winds, rain – NBC News
Hundreds of thousands were without power and North Carolinians were told to shelter in place as Hurricane Dorian, still a powerful Category 2 storm, drenched the coasts of the Carolinas on Thursday on its way to possible landfall in North Carolina.
Almost 240,000 households and businesses were without power, most of them in counties along the South Carolina coast and immediately inland, and many roads were closed by flooding.
Full coverage: Latest stories and video on Hurricane Dorian
“It has only started. We have a long night ahead of us,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in urging North Carolinians to shelter in place.
“Get to safety and stay there,” Cooper said. “This won’t be a brush-by. Whether it comes ashore or not, the eye of the storm will be close enough to cause extensive damage in North Carolina.”
The Latest on Dorian:
- At 7 p.m. Thursday, the hurricane, which had weakened to Category 2, was about 55 miles southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was moving northeast at about 10 mph.
- The storm had maximum sustained winds of about 105 mph.
- At least 23 people have died in the Bahamas, according to the health minister, and more deaths are expected to be reported.
- Forecasters said Dorian was expected to remain close to the South Carolina coast for several more hours before it moves near or possibly even makes landfall over the North Carolina coast late Thursday or Friday.
Dorian was about 55 miles southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, early Thursday evening, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. Tropical storm-force winds extended 220 miles from the eye, and a gust of 78 mph was recorded at Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina, near Cape Fear, the National Hurricane Center reported.
The storm was moving northeast at about 10 mph and was expected to remain close to the South Carolina coast for several more hours before it moves near or possibly even makes landfall over the North Carolina coast late Thursday or Friday, forecasters said.
Flash floods were reported along the coasts of both Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center reported. It said “significant, life-threatening flash flooding” was expected as far north as southeast Virginia through the night.
Officials in Georgetown County, South Carolina, suspended all emergency services until winds subside enough to ensure safety, NBC affiliate WMBF of Myrtle Beach reported. People calling 911 were being added to a list to be responded to later, authorities said.
Most of Horry County, South Carolina’s fifth-biggest county, imposed curfews beginning at 7 p.m. through at least 7 a.m. Friday.
A live electric wire was knocked down in Charleston, South Carolina, igniting sparks and explosions that could be heard blocks away, WMBF reported. Charleston police urged people to take shelter as conditions worsened, even as images of people kayaking down the flooded streets of Charleston were being shared on social media.
Sara Hughes of North Charleston said she and her family were sleeping downstairs when a tree crashed into her son’s upstairs bedroom on Thursday morning.
“I’m just thankful that he listens, and we all hunkered down downstairs,” she told NBC affiliate WIS of Columbia.
Forecasters said Dorian would produce especially heavy rainfall across eastern North Carolina, where up to 12 inches were expected, with up to 15 inches in isolated areas. New Hanover County reported 9 inches of rain on Thursday.
Rain, storm surge and strong winds weren’t the only threats. The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado ripped across Emerald Isle on Bogue’s Bank Island off North Carolina at 9:06 a.m. Police told NBC affiliate WITN of Washington that an RV park was heavily damaged as the tornado raced across the island and continued onto the mainland.
WITN quoted a witness as saying about half of the 50 mobile homes in the park were damaged.
At least one storm-related death was confirmed in North Carolina. An 85-year-old man from Columbus County died Monday when he fell off a ladder while preparing his house for the storm, state medical examiners said.
The American Red Cross said it was in “dire need” of blood donations as conditions had forced as many as 50 blood drives to be canceled across Georgia and the Carolinas.
“We’ve lost approximately 1,100 units of blood and platelet products due to the hurricane,” Chris Newman, the Red Cross’ district manager for donor recruitment in Asheville, North Carolina, told NBC affiliate WXII of Winston-Salem.
“Those units are things we’re counting on to help meet our patient demands and their needs in the hospitals,” Newman said.
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Dorian had already caused utter destruction in the Bahamas, ripping roofs and walls off homes, toppling trees, flooding streets and burying communities in debris. At least 23 people were killed, Health Minister Duane Sands told NBC News on Thursday, and the number was expected to rise.
The destruction seen in the Bahamas mirrors the damage inflicted on Puerto Rico and Dominica during hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017, the World Meteorological Organization said in a statement.
At its peak, Dorian reached maximum sustained winds of 185 mph and caused storm surges of 18 to 23 feet.
Storm surges are a growing threat to low-lying coastal communities because of rising sea levels resulting from climate change, the meteorological organization said. Rainfall associated with tropical cyclones is also projected to increase with global warming.
Dorian has been one of the slowest-moving cyclones ever recorded. A recent study by federal scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that such stalling by storms has increased in frequency among North Atlantic hurricanes, which results in more extreme rainfall.