Cape Lookout initiates evacuation plan; Dorian becomes one of strongest hurricanes in Atlantic history

National Hurricane Center cone of probability for Hurricane Dorian, evening of Sept. 1, 2019

Cape Lookout National Seashore initiated evacuation plans Sunday as Hurricane Dorian — now one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin — ravaged the Bahamas on its path to the U.S. East Coast.

Dorian on Sunday evening remained a “catastrophic” Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 185 and gusts in excess of 220 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. It is the strongest hurricane, in terms of wind, to ever make landfall in the Atlantic basin, a record held previously by a 1935 East Coast storm with 183 mph sustained winds.

In a briefing just before 6 p.m. Sunday, the National Weather Service Newport/Morehead City office reports the threat for prolonged period of heavy rainfall across eastern North Carolina continues to increase. The probability of tropical storm force winds and storm surge threats is also increasing, but the intensity remains uncertain and will be track-dependent, the weather service said.

NWS Newport/Morehead City graphic

The timing of rain and tropical storm force winds could begin as early as Wednesday night, but will more likely be felt Thursday into Friday, according to forecasters.

In a news conference Sunday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper urged North Carolinians not to focus on the storm’s category or track. Dorian is likely to increase in size as the storm moves northward, and impacts are felt well away from the center.

NWS Newport/Morehead City graphic

Along the Outer Banks, Hyde County officials with the Ocracoke Control Group were meeting this evening to discuss the storm’s forecast and evacuation plans.

Dare County Emergency Management urged visitors and residents to start preparing and pay close attention to the latest alerts.

Stay with OBXToday.com for the latest Dorian updates.

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