Now a Category 3 Storm, Dorian Heading Toward North Carolina

On the coast, the gusts could get as high as 75 to 85 mph, and for eastern Virginia and inland northeastern North Carolina gusts as high as 55 to 65 mph, the National Weather Service said in its morning briefing.

by Robyn Sidersky and Lee Tolliver, The Virginian-Pilot / September 5, 2019
Emerald Isle town employees work to clear the road after a tornado hit Emerald Isle, N.C., as Hurricane Dorian moved up the East Coast on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. AP/Tom Copeland

(TNS) — Dorian regained major hurricane status overnight as it trudged its way up the southeast coast.

Now a Category 3 storm with winds of 115 mph, Dorian was moving north at 8 mph. The cyclone is approximately 80 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C., according to the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters expect the storm to turn north-northeast today, with a turn toward the northeast by Thursday night. Then a northeastern motion at a faster forward speed is expected on Friday.

The earliest reasonable time for arrival of tropical storm force winds in excess of 37 mph in northeastern North Carolina is Thursday afternoon. Hampton Roads should start to see similar conditions overnight.

On the coast, the gusts could get as high as 75 to 85 mph, and for eastern Virginia and inland northeastern North Carolina gusts as high as 55 to 65 mph, the National Weather Service said in its morning briefing.

Hurricane warnings have been issued north to the Virginia-North Carolina border and the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds.

A tropical storm warning is in effect from the Virginia-North Carolina border up to Chincoteague, including Hampton Roads, and the Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point southward. Tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours.

A storm surge warning is in effect for Hampton Roads, the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers and up to Poquoson.

The storm surge could reach the following heights if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide:

Duck, North Carolina to Poquoson, including Hampton Roads: 2 to 4 feet

Cape Lookout, North Carolina to Duck, North Carolina, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds and the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers: 4 to 6 feet

The storm is expected to bring 3 to 8 inches of rain to southeast Virginia and 6 to 12 inches of rain to the northeastern North Carolina, with totals of up to 15 inches in stronger rain bands.

Tornado risk is low, but not out of the question. Outer storm bands already have spawned twisters in South Carolina and a tornado watch has been issued for the Outer Banks.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management announced Wednesday it did not expect any widespread mandatory evacuations in the state, but advised people to prepare for power outages.

In his Wednesday afternoon briefing, the weather service’s Wakefield lead forecaster voiced concern that people in Hampton Roads weren’t taking this storm seriously.

“They’re still going to feel the impacts, strong tropical storm- to hurricane-force winds, lots of rain and major flooding around Friday’s high tide,” Jeff Orrock said. “Friday is going to be a very bad day.”

Orrock said the eye of Dorian will likely cross northeastern North Carolina on a path from Oregon Inlet to just off Hatteras. He said surf upward of 15 to 20 feet will hit the coast and destroy sand dunes.

“The beaches are going to take a pounding,” he said. "And the eastern side of Currituck County is going to see lots of high water and really intense winds. If folks don’t take this seriously, there are going to be a lot of issues.

“I mean, when the Navy sends its ships to sea, that should perk some ears.”

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Preparations continue before storm arrives

The Port of Virginia’s status has been updated to be Port Condition Yankee, meaning it is closed to inbound traffic without permission from the Captain of the Port. All affected vessels are encouraged to see an alternative destination. Owners of pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor and drawbridges may not be operating if sustained winds reach 34 mph or when an evacuation is in progress.

Suffolk declared a state of emergency Wednesday night. Portsmouth and Chesapeake already declared states of emergency.

Chesapeake residents can park their vehicles in the garage at Tidewater Community College’s Chesapeake campus beginning Thursday morning, according to the school. Residents can access garages from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. to noon Sunday. Cars must be removed by noon Sunday.

Portsmouth will open a short-term emergency shelter for residents at I.C. Norcom High School at noon Thursday. The school is located at 1801 London Blvd.

The city will open garages at 8 a.m. Thursday for residents to relocate their vehicles. The garages open are County Street, Harbor Court, Middle Street and Water Street. Vehicles need to be removed by 8 a.m. Monday.

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