Saturday 1 PM Update: Chance of Dorian Impacting Eastern NC as Hurricane Increases

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GOES Satellite imagery at 11:37 am Saturday, Aug. 31. (Levi Cowan, TropicalTidbits.com)

Official forecasts for Category 4 Hurricane Dorian continue to look worse for Carteret County. The discussion below explores potential impacts in our area and is based on the NHC 11 am update and most recent forecast models available at the time of publication. Follow the NHC for official forecasts.

Overview

The 11 am Saturday, Aug 31, forecast cone from the National Weather Service. The storm has equal probability of going anywhere inside the cone – not just along the center line.

The entire Carolina Coast is now inside of the National Hurricane Center’s 5-day forecast cone. The center line of the cone is an average of the possibilities of Dorian’s future track. There is just as much possibility of the center of the storm heading toward any area inside the cone, and areas outside of the cone being impacted.

The NHC has added North Carolina to it’s list of Key Messages: The risk of strong winds and dangerous storm surge is increasing along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina during the middle of next week.

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Dorian has wind speeds of 150 mph, a well-defined eye, a pressure of 945 mb (Florence hit at 958 mb), and is sitting over warm waters. The storm will likely maintain at least Category 4 strength for the next 24-36 hours. The possibility of the storm intensifying into a Category 5 is possible.

Any interaction the storm has with land will reduce Dorian’s intensity, and a direct landfall will dramatically reduce wind speeds. Direct landfall south of NC is becoming less likely. If Dorian stays over the water, then makes landfall or near-landfall in central NC, we will have a very storm on our hands.

Forecast Models

The most recent forecast models (12z) ran at 8 am EDT. Below is a look at some major global models and hurricane-specific models. These models show potential scenarios and are subject to change. However, we have seen increasing agreement among the models, which generally is accompanied by an increase forecast accuracy.

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The 12z GFS (US model)

The GFS shows Dorian approaching central Florida, and slowing down to a crawl as it turns north without making landfall. The storm would crawl up the coast, potentially making landfall at Cape Fear and/or Cape Lookout on Thursday as a strong Category 2. Potential accumulated rainfall between now and Friday afternoon is about 10 inches according to this model.

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The 12z ECWMF (European model)

The Euro also shows Dorian avoiding a Florida landfall and heading north toward our coast. This model predicts it passing just off Cape Lookout at a Category 2 with tropical storm force winds affecting our area by Thursday morning and hurricane force arriving a few hours afterward. It shows a slightly smaller wind field on the western side of the storm than the GFS.

The 06z HWRF (a hurricane-specific model)

The HWRF also shows Dorian avoiding landfall in Florida and heading north directly toward Brunswick, then Carteret county. This model predicts max wind speed at 156 mph as it passes Cape Lookout – a weak Category 5 storm. Category 5 storms do not maintain intensity very long, so this forecast is tenuous at best. If this model is accurate, tropical storm force winds would begin Wednesday evening, and hurricane force winds would begin early Thursday morning. It does not predict landfall, but the eye would be close enough for the very high winds to affect our area. The good news: this model shows a quick-moving storm.

The CMC (Canadian model)

The CMC is showing Dorian making landfall at the Florida/Georgia line, weakening then swinging back out over the ocean. The storm then bounces up the coast as a mid-strength tropical storm and passes south of Cape Lookout on the way out to sea. Tropical storm force winds would begin late Wednesday night. Rainfall totals would be around 5 inches.

Other Models

The Navy and GFS Legacy models show the same type of track and intensity as the GFS.

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