Hurricane Dorian lashes Florida with tropical storm conditions, as Carolinas brace for ‘very close brush’

After leveling the Bahamas with deadly and destructive force, Hurricane Dorian churned toward the Southeast coast Wednesday, nicking Florida with tropical storm conditions along the state’s northeastern coast and threatening a potentially powerful landfall in the Carolinas later this week.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 8 a.m. EDT Wednesday the Category 2 storm’s maximum sustained winds were at 105 mph. Dorian was located about 95 miles east of Daytona Beach, Fla., moving north-northwestward at 8 mph.

“We could be dealing with a very close brush or landfall across portions of South Carolina or North Carolina Thursday into Friday,” Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean said Wednesday. “We could certainly be feeling, at least, hurricane-force wind for a matter of hours.”

The forecast track of Hurricane Dorian.
The forecast track of Hurricane Dorian. (Fox News)

Dorian’s center is tracking offshore and nearly parallel to Florida’s Atlantic shoreline, but is still bringing heavy rains and wind to the Sunshine State.

As of 6 a.m. on Wednesday there were over 18,000 customers without power reported in Florida, with the greatest number of outages being reported in Volusia and St. Johns Counties, according to an update from the state’s division of emergency management.

The outer bands of the storm moved across central Florida late Tuesday night, causing a tree to fall on an assisted living facility in DeLand. Officials told FOX35 no injuries were reported.

While Dorian avoided a direct hit on Florida, the threat is increasing for a greater impact in Georgia and particularly South and North Carolina, where a landfall may still occur.

“We are looking at a close brush or a landfall across portions of South Carolina, North Carolina,” Dean said Wednesday.

A worker affixes corrugated metal to the front of a business along the main drag in Folly Beach, S.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019.
A worker affixes corrugated metal to the front of a business along the main drag in Folly Beach, S.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered mandatory evacuations along the state’s 190-mile coast and turned all lanes of Interstate 26 into a one-way evacuation route heading west. Georgia officials did the same with Interstate 16 after Gov. Brian Kemp ordered coastal evacuations.

In Savannah, buses were being used to evacuate people to Augusta as Dorian approached the coast, GBP radio news reported.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued in coastal South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Dorian.
Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued in coastal South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

Gov. McMaster urged coastal residents that leaving is “the only way to be safe.”

Forecasters and public officials were concerned that regardless of the storm’s strength, it could dump a dangerous amount of water on the Carolinas.

“All of this creates the possibility of dramatic flooding in the Lowcountry,” McMaster said. “This is a very serious storm. A westward shift of just a few miles could bring enormous damage to our state. Heed the warnings.”

On “Fox & Friends,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott echoed calls to evacuate.

“One of the things I’ve been saying is that complacency leads to catastrophes, not only for you but for the emergency responders that will be charged with the responsibility to come to get you.”

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered a mandatory evacuation of barrier islands at 8 a.m. Wednesday, which includes the Outer Banks, Shackleford Banks, Bogue Banks and Bald Head Island, saying the storm posed an “imminent threat.”

Attorney Henry Grimball, 71, told the Associated Press he and his wife would likely ride out Dorian in their four-story home in Charleston’s downtown historic district.

“These houses have been here since 1770,” Grimball said, gesturing to the white and pastel houses dotting his neighborhood. “They’ve been through a lot.”

Joey Spalding, left, fills sandbags with the help of his friend Tom Sikes, right, at Spalding's home in Tybee Island, Ga., Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, before the potential arrival of Hurricane Dorian.
Joey Spalding, left, fills sandbags with the help of his friend Tom Sikes, right, at Spalding’s home in Tybee Island, Ga., Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, before the potential arrival of Hurricane Dorian. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Grimball said he would reconsider, however, if the storm became a Category 3 or stronger hurricane: He remembers the devastation from Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Hugo slammed into South Carolina’s coast with winds gusting as high as 108 mph in Charleston, killing several dozen people, causing nearly $6 billion in damage and toppling a massive magnolia in Grimball’s backyard.

“It gets to be really dangerous,” he said.

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