Hurricane Dorian is causing serious flooding in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, officials say, on a morning when the Category 1 storm made landfall over some of those barrier islands.
The storm made landfall at 8:35 a.m. Friday over Cape Hatteras with maximum sustained winds near 90 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Flooding is at “historic levels” on nearby Ocracoke Island, and the water is expected to rise rapidly in Hatteras Friday morning, the Dare County emergency management office said.
Friday should be the last day Dorian inflicts serious damage in the United States, after it devastated the northern Bahamas and pounded parts of the US southeast coast.
It should move off the US coast as it travels northeast, eventually delivering rain and tropical-storm-force winds in the mid-Atlantic states Friday and extreme southeastern Massachusetts late Friday or early Saturday, the hurricane center said.
Since Thursday, Dorian has flooded parts of the Carolinas and spawned a number of tornadoes, as well as lashed Virginia with winds and rain. More than 415,000 people were without electricity service Friday morning in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, according to poweroutage.us.
Parts of North Carolina may receive up to 8 more inches of rain Friday, for two-day totals up to 15 inches, forecasters said.
‘We don’t need people leaving their homes’
Earlier in the week, Dorian flattened homes and wiped out neighborhoods in the Bahamas, leaving at least 30 people dead. It then closed in on the southeastern coast of the United States, where five deaths have been blamed on the storm so far.
“Dorian has North Carolina in its sights,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday. “We need people to hunker down and stay safe. We don’t need people leaving their homes.”
A series of watches and warnings
The storm surge began late Thursday night along the North Carolina and southeast Virginia coasts.
A hurricane warning is in effect from Surf City, North Carolina, to the North Carolina/Virginia state line.
Thursday, nearly two dozen tornadoes were reported from the outer bands of Dorian. They toppled mobile homes and left debris strewn for acres.
Tornadoes are common in the thunderstorm bands of hurricanes and tropical storms.
Tornadoes along the coast
North Carolina resident Byron Cox was in his mobile home in Emerald Isle when the tornado approached Thursday. His home was still standing, but his father’s was destroyed, he saidy.
“I remember hearing a loud noise. The next thing I know, the trailer started shaking. … It shook probably 10-15 seconds, real hard,” Cox, 37, said Thursday.
“All of a sudden I didn’t feel it (any) more. I looked outside, and the tornado … (was) going through the back. … Debris flying everywhere. Never saw anything like this in my entire life.”
The tornadoes extended into South Carolina, where firefighters say one damaged an unspecified number of vehicles and buildings in North Myrtle Beach.
Wayne White captured video of the funnel cloud there. He said he was checking on some properties he manages when he saw it.
“I saw the circular clouds and was going to take a little video, and the funnel came out of nowhere,” he tweeted.
South Carolina turns to recovery
Charleston’s mayor says that efforts to recover begin Friday.
“Yes, today was Dorian Day in Charleston, and I am happy to bid him farewell,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said Thursday. “To the hundreds of officials, and the outstanding citizens of Charleston, thank you. Tomorrow, we all unite as Team Charleston to recover.”
Authorities in Charleston are working to address power outages, downed trees and flooded roadways.