Updated 9:55 p.m.
Hurricane Dorian is picking up speed as it approaches the North Carolina coast, with the possibility of turning into a Category 3 come Thursday night.
The storm is currently traveling north-northwest at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Frank Nocera. By Thursday evening, Dorian will be moving at 10-to-20 mph and is expected to exceed 111 mph — the threshold for a Category 3 hurricane.
“There are some indications it could be undergoing a little bit of strengthening,” Nocera said.
According to Nocera, the strongest wind is going to hug the North Carolina coastline for 12-to-24 hours, whether or not the eye itself makes landfall. If it does make landfall, he said, it will likely be in the islands around Hatteras.
The NWS is predicting 6-to-10 inches of rain and a chance of flash flooding, according to Nocera.
“They’re equal threats: the wind and the flooding,” Nocera said.
Updated 8:53 p.m.
Starting Thursday, Onslow Water and Sewer Authority requests all customers conserve water in advance of Hurricane Dorian impacts, according to a press release from the company.
Residents are asked to limit water use to consumption and personal hygiene, according to the release. ONWASA has worked to fill all water reserves to maximum capacity and the company has in excess of 16 million gallons of stored water. However, storm surge, inland flooding, and downed trees may break underground water mains which could cause the loss of water.
In addition, water service to Topsail Island will be stopped as winds reach 45 mph on Thursday as crews would be unable to safely respond to main breaks at those wind speeds, according to the release.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a mandatory evacuation for barrier islands, which includes Topsail Island, as of Wednesday, according to the release, and the National Weather Service warned of severe storm surge and likely ocean over wash of Topsail Island. These conditions place the underground water system in jeopardy.
ONWASA maintains over 33 miles of water mains on Topsail Island, and if portions of the water mains on the island are lost large quantities of ONWASAs water reserves would be placed in immediate jeopardy if the island is not isolated, according to the release.
Crews, equipment, and supplies have been pre-positioned in Sneads Ferry to assess any damage to the island and begin effecting emergency repairs as soon as it is safe to do so, according to the release, and ONWASA secured emergency agreements with large contractors to speed water utility reconstruction in the service area if necessary.
The company is also prepared to provide an emergency potable water distribution point at the Onslow County Environmental Education Center and Public Library following the storm if necessary, according to the release. Other emergency water distribution points around Onslow County may be activated following the storm if needed.
Updated 4:45 p.m.
Jacksonville Mayor Sammy Phillips has issued a curfew for the City of Jacksonville due to Hurricane Dorian, according to a press release Wednesday,
The curfew will be in effect from 10 p.m. Thursday to 7 a.m. Friday, according to the release.
"In considering the curfew, the City has tried to recognize the upcoming storm conditions, as well as the needs of the residents and businesses of our City," Phillips is quoted as saying in the release.
This curfew will be limited, unless circumstances change, according to the release. Re-entry passes for businesses and people who work in essential businesses will be available at the Center for Public Safety from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday. Jacksonville city will be open from 8 to 11 a.m. Thursday and closed Friday. Emergency crews, public safety and essential personnel will remain on duty.
The City's Emergency Operations Center will be manned by 8 a.m. Thursday and in full by 1 p.m. Thursday, according to the release, and will stay in operation until the threat of Dorian has passed and recovery operations begin.
Garbage and recycling collection is suspended on Thursday and Friday, but those routes may be picked up Saturday, depending on whether the county landfill opens, according to the release. Jacksonville Transit will operate as long as they can safely do so, and when the weather is unsafe the service will stop. Riders should check the city's website as well as TransLoc, the Jacksonville Transit app for the latest information.
The City of Jacksonville Citizen Phone bank at 910-938-5200 will open Thursday morning.
Updated 4:36 p.m.
Hurricane Dorian is expected to move quickly as it as it passes along the Eastern North Carolina coast, but not before bringing a lot of rain, hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge to the area.
If you haven’t already finished preparing for the storm, the National Weather Service said tonight is the time to do so.
“The window is closing for the time to complete your preparations,” said Erik Heden, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service forecast office in Newport, during an afternoon briefing.
The most likely time of arrival of tropical force winds is Thursday evening/night but there is the potential for all of Eastern North Carolina to start seeing strong winds earlier than that on Thursday.
“Winds will really start picking up later toward Thursday evening and overnight and will be here for a while, at least 12 hours or along the coast closer to 24 hours,” Heden said.
Heden noted all areas of Eastern North Carolina will see tropical storm force winds, which are sustained winds 39 mph or above and more coastal areas seeing hurricane force winds, which are sustained winds 74 mph or above.
Areas around New Bern could see sustained winds around 70 mph and Onslow County around Jacksonville is expected to see sustained winds 80 mph or above. North Topsail Beach could see hurricane force winds around 90 mph.
Gusts could be 60 mph or so inland and 100 mph or higher closest to the coast.
Rain of 6-to-10 inches is forecasted across Eastern North Carolina, with some areas projected to see more than that.
Storm surge amounts of 4-to-7 feet above ground is possible in areas from Surf City to Cape Lookout.
NWS meteorologist Tony Saavedra said the track as of Wednesday afternoon has Dorian moving along the coast and skirting closest around Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras, with a possible landfall depending on its movement.
“More and more it looks like it will be Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras where it comes closest and then keep moving north and then stay offshore,” he said.
The hurricane is expected to stay a Category 2 storm off North Carolina, with the worst of the impacts felt in the early hours Friday.
Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.
Updated 4:27 p.m.
The Town of Beulaville has issued a curfew, which is set to begin at 1 p.m. Thursday and will be enforced until further notice.
After the curfew goes into effect all businesses are to be closed and all residents must be off the streets, according to a post from the Beulaville Police Department.
Swansboro has announced a town curfew due to Hurricane Dorian.
The curfew begins at 3 p.m. Thursday and will be in effect until Saturday at 8 a.m., according to a press release from the town.
The curfew restricts the public appearance of anyone other than law enforcement or emergency services personnel within Swansboro, with the exception of N.C. 24, according to the release.