Updated 12:10 p.m. Thursday
Hurricane Dorian has begun moving slowly up the South Carolina coast. It’s passing close to Charleston this morning and then will be near Wilmington tonight.
Tornado warnings have been issued for parts of the coast as the storm churns north. Already, tornadoes have been reported in South Carolina near Myrtle Beach, and in Pender County, North Carolina. Earlier today, Gov. Roy Cooper urged coastal residents to seek shelter before the hits the outer banks this evening.
"Hundreds of thousands will lose power and that has already begun," Cooper said. "Winds will topple trees and powerlines and roads and buildings will be flooded."
Erik Heden is a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Morehead City, North Carolina.
“This is a very large storm — a very large wind field," Heden said. "We’ll have sustained tropical-storm force winds across all of eastern North Carolina. The best chance for sustained hurricane winds or gusts would be down toward the coast itself."
Some areas could get as much as 15 inches of rain and the storm could produce life-threatening flooding and storm surge.
Heden says the storm could make landfall somewhere near Cape Lookout late Thursday — with water and wind remaining the biggest threats.
"Power outages are expected even farther inland because of that wide wind field of tropical storm force winds,” Heden said.
Bob Woodard is the chair of the Dare County Board of Commissioners. He told NPR’s "Moring Edition" his community is preparing for what could life-threatening storm surge.
“I am so, so concerned about our citizens in Hatteras Island because that sticks out so far," Woodard said. "We’re going to have some major, major flooding issues in Hatteras if not even some severe wind damage."
[Related: How To Prepare For Hurricane Dorian]
Mandatory evacuations are in effect for most areas along the North and South Carolina coasts. The Charlotte region is not likely to see any impact from the storm.
Many coastal residents have boarded up their homes.
Dorian is being blamed for one death in North Carolina. An 85-year-old man in Columbus County died after falling from a ladder as he was preparing his home for the storm.