Hurricane Dorian Skirts Carolinas’ Coast With High Winds and Drenching Rain

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) -
Heavy rain and wind move through Charleston, S.C. on Thursday. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

A weakening Hurricane Dorian, downgraded to a Category 1 but still packing 90 mph winds, crawled north on Friday, skirting the Carolinas and flooding coastal towns a couple of days after it reduced parts of the Bahamas to rubble.

The storm was about 30 miles south-southwest of Cape Lookout, N.C. on the state’s Outer Banks early on Friday.

It is expected to push farther out to sea before making landfall in the state later on Friday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in a 2 a.m. advisory.

The howling west flank of Dorian has soaked the Carolinas since early Thursday, flooding coastal towns, whipping up more than a dozen tornadoes and cutting power to hundreds of thousands of people.

Floodwaters rose to a foot or more in parts of the historic South Carolina city of Charleston, where more than 7 inches of rain fell in some areas, officials said. Another half-inch or more was expected overnight Friday.

A tornado touched down in the The Farm at Brunswick County in Carolina Shores, N.C. on Thursday, damaging homes ahead of Hurricane Dorian’s arrival. (Jason Lee/The Sun News via AP)

More than 280,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina and South Carolina on Friday morning. Power had mostly been restored to thousands of people in Georgia, tracking site showed.

But as Dorian picks up speed from its 15 mph crawl, life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds remain a threat for much of the area and Virginia, the NHC said.

Governors in the region declared states of emergency, shut schools, opened shelters, readied national guard troops and urged residents to heed warnings, as media circulated fresh images of the storm’s devastation in the Bahamas.

At least 70,000 Bahamians needed immediate humanitarian relief after Dorian became the most damaging storm ever to hit the island nation.

In the Carolinas alone, more than 900,000 people had been ordered to evacuate their homes. It was unclear how many did so.

Dorian whipped up at least three tornadoes in the region, officials said. One in North Carolina damaged scores of trailers at a campground in Emerald Isle, but no one was injured, the Raleigh, N.C.-based News & Observer said.

Of at least four storm-related deaths reported in the United States, three were in Orange County, Florida, during storm preparations or evacuation, the mayor’s office said.

In North Carolina, an 85-year-old man fell off a ladder while barricading his home for Dorian, the governor said.

Police officers survey the increasingly rough surf as Hurricane Dorian approaches, in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, Thursday. (Reuters/Jonathan Drake)