September 5, 2019

Dorian Producing Hurricane Conditions In North Carolina; Atlantic Canada Next In Line

Hurricane Dorian's eyewall will continue scraping along the North Carolina coast on Thursday night after bringing high winds and coastal flooding to South Carolina earlier in the day. Hurricane force winds and a life-threatening storm surge are possible tonight and through the first half of Friday as the hurricane makes its way up the North Carolina coast toward open waters. Atlantic Canada will likely see hurricane conditions on Saturday and Sunday as Dorian races toward higher latitudes.

Dorian's Holding Steady

Radar image of Hurricane Dorian at 9:10 PM EDT on September 5, 2019 | GREarth/AllisonHouse
We've still got a strong hurricane this evening. The 8:00 PM EDT update from the National Hurricane Center found maximum sustained winds of 100 MPH with higher gusts. Charleston, S.C., experienced sustained winds of 52 MPH and a wind gust of 69 MPH just before noon on Thursday. A station along the coast near Georgetown, S.C., reported sustained winds of 77 MPH with a gust to 85 MPH as the core of the storm approached the region around 4:00 PM. We're likely to see more reports of sustained hurricane force winds on the North Carolina coast tonight.

Current Forecast

Dorian is moving northeast right now, and its eye could make landfall somewhere along the North Carolina coast this evening. Regardless of whether a technical landfall occurs, hurricane force winds in the eyewall will continue to spread over land as the storm moves up the coast.

The hurricane's wind field continues to grow larger as it begins to feel the effects of the jet stream to its north. Tropical storm force winds extend 170 miles from the center of the storm—stretching as far inland as Fayetteville—with hurricane force winds stretching 70 miles from the center. This expansion will likely expose the Virginia Tidewater and the southern half of the Delmarva peninsula to tropical storm conditions on Friday morning.

According to PowerOutage.US, the storm has caused about 260,000 power outages across the Carolinas as of 9:20 PM EDT. This number will likely climb through Friday as strong winds move over populated areas.


Radar rainfall estimate between 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM on Thursday. | GREarth/AllisonHouse
Multiple flash flood warnings are in effect across North Carolina as the storm wrings out every drop of tropical moisture in its rainbands. Radar estimates show widespread totals of 3-5 inches over the last 12 hours—with isolated totals as high as 7 inches—and plenty more heavy rain is on the way during the overnight hours. Remember, most flood-related fatalities are the result of motorists trying to drive across a water-covered roadway.


Tornadoes are a threat with any landfalling tropical cyclone. There have been multiple confirmed tornadoes across North Carolina today, including in Carolina Shores and Emerald Isle on Thursday morning.

A tornado watch is in effect through the overnight hours in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia as thunderstorms in the outer bands tap into low-level wind shear and begin rotating. The tornado warning lead time on tropical tornadoes is lower than normal due to how quickly they form. Pay close attention to tornado warnings tonight and make sure the emergency alerts are activated on your cell phone.

Eastern Massachusetts

Once Hurricane Dorian clears the Mid-Atlantic on Friday afternoon, the next spot at risk is eastern Massachusetts.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket as Hurricane Dorian races past the area on Friday night and Saturday morning. The center of the storm will pass well to the east of New England, but its wind field will grow so large by that point that a period of tropical storm conditions are possible in far-eastern Massachusetts.

NWS Boston warns of the threat for 30 to 40 MPH sustained winds—with wind gusts potentially as high as 60 MPH—across areas in the tropical storm warning. These areas could also see 2 to 4 inches of rain, which could lead to localized flooding issues.

Atlantic Canada

Hurricane Dorian will slowly lose its tropical characteristics as it approaches Atlantic Canada this weekend. Interaction with the jet stream will combine with cooler waters to force the hurricane to transition into an extratropical cyclone, or a "common" low-pressure system that derives its energy from the jet stream and features cold and warm fronts at the surface.

Despite the likely status change, ex-Dorian will still pack hurricane force winds, flooding rains, and the potential for a storm surge along the coast once it arrives in Nova Scotia on Saturday. Folks who live in Nova Scotia (especially around Halifax), eastern New Brunswick, and eastern Prince Edward Island should spend Friday preparing for a period of damaging winds on Saturday that could lead to widespread power outages, downed trees, and significant coastal flooding in vulnerable areas. The storm will move into Newfoundland on Sunday, bringing these hazardous conditions to communities on the western half of the island.

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.