Dorian expected to strengthen to Cat 3 hurricane; eastern N.C. asked to remain alert

NOAA satellite images of Erin and Dorian off Atlantic coast.

The National Hurricane Center now says Tropical Storm Dorian could become a Category 3 hurricane before reaching the U.S. mainland late this holiday weekend.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands while a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning are up for Puerto Rico.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds have increased to near 70 mph, with higher gusts. Dorian is forecast to become a hurricane later today and continue strengthening during the next few days over the Atlantic waters.

The storm is expected to reach Florida as a Category 2 or 3 hurricane late Sunday into early Monday. From there, the track remains highly uncertain, but local forecasters say eastern North Carolina needs to remain on alert.

“There are some models that do turn it toward the right, and start taking it a little further up the coastline, potentially becoming a factor in our forecast,” said John Bernier, chief meteorologist at WRIC-TV and a forecaster for Beach 104, 94.5 WCMS and 99.1 The Sound.

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Erin was approximately 265 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras on Wednesday morning, churning up high surf and rip currents, according to the North Carolina Department of Emergency Management.

Erin doesn’t pose any threat to the North Carolina coast, but will continue creating rip current risks, along with swells from Dorian over the weekend.

Stay with OBXToday.com for the latest tropical weather updates.

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