Carteret County officials met Sunday morning to begin preparations ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which could impact our area as early as Wednesday night.
As of 11 am Sunday, Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane moving west over the Bahamas at 7 mph with sustained wind speeds of 180 mph and gusts up to 202 mph.
The National Hurricane Center expects Dorian to vary in intensity over the next three days, then gradually begin to weaken on Wednesday as it heads into the waters off South Carolina’s coast. The NHC does not expect Dorian to be a major hurricane – Category 3 or higher – as it nears North Carolina.
“The chance for sustained tropical storm-force winds has increased across the area, especially along the Crystal Coast and Outer Banks,” read a statement from the National Weather Service in Morehead City/Newport about noon today.
According to the NHC, the earliest possible arrival time of tropical storm force winds, between 40 and 74 mph, is Wednesday afternoon. There is a chance that Carteret County will experience hurricane force winds as well.
Heavy rain and storm surge are also threats. The NHC is predicting 6-10 inches of rain over the next five days. Minor storm surge of about a foot above normal could begin affecting the area Tuesday or Wednesday, and higher amounts are expected.
Sunday morning county department heads and emergency services staff met to discuss the track of Dorian and the next steps necessary to prepare for potential impacts. The county control group, which includes officials from municipalities, will meet at 5 pm today.
County Chair Mark Mansfield said the meeting was originally planned for Monday morning.
“To ease concerns, we’re going to go ahead and meet a little earlier than we planned,” he said. “Right now it’s more of a monitor and prepare situation, at this point, than it is taking any specific actions. As we move into tomorrow and Tuesday, it will be more of an active phase.”
Mansfield said Dorian looks like it will be similar to Hurricane Matthew, which bounced up the Southeast Coast in October, 2016, and caused 26 deaths and $1.6 billion in damage in North Carolina, largely due to flooding.
“We’re just kind of trying to see does it grow, does it intensify more, does it move to the west?” Mansfield said. “There are so many variables right now. we want to make sure we have the communication lines open.”