Hurricane Dorian continues its path toward the Carolinas with pounding rain and whipping winds. The storm’s winds snapped power lines in Charleston, SC.
Though the eyewall of Hurricane Dorian has not officially made landfall in the U.S., it came within 55 miles of Charleston, South Carolina, late Thursday morning. Heavy rains have followed, flooding the historic city.
The National Hurricane Center said Charleston Harbor was experiencing wind gusts to nearly 80 mph. It also recorded gusts of similar speeds elsewhere in the state and in North Carolina.
Several tornadoes were cited in the area. Hurricane-force winds were extending outward up to 60 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.
Although the storm was downgraded to a Category 2 Thursday morning by the National Hurricane Center, it has widened since in the past few days. It is still dangerous, resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of flights. It’s also closed airports and harbors, and altered cruise-ship itineraries.
Here’s a preliminary look at the statuses of popular U.S. travel destinations from the Florida Keys to Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Where is Hurricane Dorian now?The storm is getting closer to the SC coast
‘Hope for the best’:Carolina coastal residents flee as Hurricane Dorian marches toward US
“If you have not left, you still have time, but time is running out,” Gov. Henry McMaster urged those in South Carolina’s coastal communities during a Wednesday press conference. “It is the water that kills people. It is the water that is the real danger. It is clear that we are going to have a lot of water.”
Those surges, his team said, could make water levels rise as much as four to eight feet along the coast, making roads impassable, especially at high tide.
Charleston International Airport has been closed since 3 p.m. EDT Wednesday with tentative plans to reopen Friday, depending on weather conditions.
The Port of Charleston closed Wednesday with plans to reopen Friday morning.
Hilton Head Island: The barrier island, 30 miles northeast of Savannah, Georgia, has been under an evacuation order since Sunday night, as have all coastal towns in South Carolina.
Myrtle Beach: A tornado spawned by Dorian touched down in the area Thursday morning, reported The Greenville News, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Nevertheless, Myrtle Beach International Airport remains open but recommends travelers check with airlines for the most up-to-date information on flight delays and cancellations
“The message this morning is this: Get to safety and stay there. Don’t let your guard down,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stressed at a Thursday press conference. “This will not be a brush-by. Whether it comes ashore or not, the eye of the storm will be close enough to cause extensive damage in North Carolina.”
Cooper added that conditions had “deteriorated rapidly” in Eastern North Carolina overnight and that Dorian had spawned a tornado in the state’s southernmost county.
“The latest forecast track is more dire: up to 10 inches of rain in coastal areas and 3-6 inches in central North Carolina,” he said. “The new forecast predicts sustained winds of 100 mph on our coasts with gusts up to 125 mph. Storm surges will be as high as seven feet.”
Cooper urged everyone – even those in inland areas – to pay close attention to flood watches and be prepared to evacuate if asked to by local officials.
Cape Fear: Brunswick County was put under a tornado watch Thursday morning, in addition to the hurricane and storm surge warnings issued earlier.
Outer Banks: All North Carolina barrier islands between the Virginia and South Carolina borders have been under a mandatory evacuation order since 8 a.m. ET Wednesday. Affected islands include the Outer Banks, Shackleford Banks, Bogue Banks and Bald Head Island.
Wilmington: The city is following the lead of New Hanover County, which has been under a mandatory evacuation order since 8 a.m. Wednesday. The countyis also under a state of emergency.
Wilmington International Airport is currently closed to commercial flights with plans to reopen Friday. Passengers should contact their airlines for flight status updates.
Savannah: The mandatory evacuation order for Chatham County, which includes Savannah and Tybee Island, was lifted late Thursday morning.
Savannah/Hilton Head Airport announced Thursday morning that it is now fully operational; however, it noted its flight schedule will not return to normal until Friday afternoon. Passengers are urged to check with their airlines for flight status information.
Fort Lauderdale: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reopened Tuesday.
Florida Keys: The National Hurricane Center removed the island chain from the forecast cone for Dorian on Sunday, and no mandatory evacuation orders are in place for Monroe County.
Jacksonville: The evacuation order for Nassau County has been lifted, the local state of emergency has also been lifted, and shelters are discharging guests. According to the county’s initial damage assessment, there have been reports of a few downed trees and standing water.
As for the Port in Jacksonville, the Coast Guard is scheduled to visit Thursday to assess whether and when it can fully reopen. The port’s website is also advising cruise passengers to arrive at the JAXPORT Cruise Terminal between 2 and 6 p.m. Thursday rather than their previously scheduled arrival appointment times. It also notes that Carnival Ecstasy’s Thursday sailing will now depart from Port Canaveral instead.
The website for Port Canaveral says that it has reopened its waterways but with restrictions. The following cruise ships were scheduled to dock Thursday morning:
Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas
Carnival Elation, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Liberty and Disney Dream.
Port Everglades: The port is open and fully operational.
Hurricane Dorian: How Disney World kept the magic alive as the storm threatened Florida
Virginia Beach: On Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center issued a storm surge warning for the Hampton Roads area, which includes Virginia Beach, Newport News and the U.S. naval base at Norfolk, which has already begun sending jets and ships out to sea, away from the storm’s path.
The state has been under a state of emergency since Tuesday; however, no evacuation orders had been issued as of Thursday midday.
Norfolk International Airport remains open but cautioned passengers to consult their airlines for flight status updates.
Ocean City: Worcester County is under a coastal flood watch through Friday night, reports the the Salisbury Daily Times, part of the USA TODAY Network.
In addition, much of the Delmarva Peninsula is under a tropical storm watch.
According to Royal Caribbean’s website, the Grandeur’s sail-away date has been delayed until Friday, but passengers still must board by 3 p.m. ET Thursday.
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