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Dorian: when, where, how much?

For nearly one week, the world has watched the track of Hurricane Dorian change on multiple occasions. Will the latest forecast bring the storm near the Roanoke-Chowan area? It appears that only time (and direction) will tell.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Dorian had finally begun its slow, but predictable, movement northwest, inching away from the Bahamas. It is expected to gain forward speed as it hugs the Florida coastline and then make its way northward.

“Hurricane Dorian is expected to lift north and northeast along the Southeast coast late this week,” the National Weather Service Office in Wakefield, VA said in a release Tuesday afternoon. “There is a potential for direct impacts (on northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia) from the storm in the form of heavy rain, wind, and coastal

flooding depending on the exact track of the system.”

Based on the forecast, Dorian is expected to be at or near Cape Hatteras on Friday morning. It’s predicted to speed away to the northeast (away from the coast) from there.

A Hurricane Watch was issued Tuesday for the entire North Carolina coast, to include the Albemarle Sound.

NWS-Wakefield notes that the greatest impacts from Dorian across the local area will occur Thursday and Friday. The storm’s wind field is expected to expand as it moves northeast along the coast. There’s roughly a 50-50 chance that portions of the RC area may experience at least tropical storm force winds (39 mph and higher).

Rain is expected during the daylight hours and overnight Thursday. The heaviest bands of rain, as much as 8-to-10 inches in some areas, will be along and to the east of the I-95 corridor.

Hertford County local government officials initiated a State of Emergency effective at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. That document does not include any restrictions.

“We’re keeping a close eye on Dorian’s movement over the next few days,” Hertford County Manager Loria Williams said Tuesday afternoon.

The county’s Control Group met Tuesday and have scheduled another meeting at 3 p.m. today (Wednesday).

“We hope to have more of a detailed analysis of where the hurricane is heading, at what time it will arrive, and how much of a punch it will pack by Wednesday,” Williams noted.

She added that the county will open evacuation shelters if necessary.

“That decision will be made on Wednesday,” Williams stated.

If shelters do open, they will be located at Hertford County High School (Ahoskie) and Hertford County Middle School (Murfreesboro). The shelter at the high school is pet friendly.

Bertie County Commissioners’ chairman John Trent signed a declaration for a State of Emergency early on Tuesday. At this time, the declaration does not impede personal or commercial activities or travel within Bertie County.

“We are taking all necessary precautions,” said Bertie County Manager Scott Sauer. “If necessary, shelters will be opening tomorrow (Wednesday) evening at these locations: Bertie High School, Colerain Elementary School, and West Bertie Elementary School.

“All residents are encouraged to cooperate with public safety, law enforcement and emergency management officials,” he continued. “Persons are encouraged to monitor regional news and social media outlets for the latest weather reports and safety alerts.”

Sauer added, “We are asking all county residents to shelter in place as much as possible for 72 hours until the brunt of the storm has passed, and just pray that the storm turns out to sea.”

“We’re urging residents to check for water, food, medications, pets, transportation and evacuation plans, communication, access to media coverage, and backup power, if available. Please take time to review these things and remember that we should all be able to sustain on our own for 72 hours,” Sauer stated.

Bertie County Emergency Services Director Mitch Cooper said, “The exact effects coming to Bertie County are still uncertain. We know that we will get some tropical force winds and rain that can result in 5 to 10 inches rainfall starting Wednesday night until Friday. Isolated areas could see upwards of 15 inches. All of this will be dependent of the northward track and if it makes land fall or rides along our North Carolina coast line.”

“As the storm takes the northward turn the wind fields are expected to get wider and could be a category 2 Hurricane hitting North Carolina. We will continue to monitor the storm and continue to update you on possible shelters and expected impacts to our area.” Cooper cautioned.

Cooper met with area first responders everywhere from municipal fire departments, NC Wildlife Resources, to the NC Forestry Service at the Bertie Council on Aging in Windsor on Tuesday evening.

In Northampton County, Emergency Management Coordinator Ronnie Storey reported Tuesday morning the county was taking all of its usual steps to prepare for the upcoming hurricane, even though the latest track doesn’t forecast serious impacts in the area.

As of Tuesday morning, Storey said the county may receive 3 to 4 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 40 mph. Residents could start seeing impacts Thursday evening into Friday morning.

“Actually, that’s no more than a bad thunderstorm, it just may be a little more prolonged” he said, but also emphasized the forecast could easily change at any time.

There are no plans to open shelters for Northampton residents, but Storey said they were working to open a Coastal Regional Evacuation Shelter (CRES) at the Cultural and Wellness Center in Jackson for evacuees leaving the coast.

“We try to give them somewhere to go,” he explained.

The county also declared a State of Emergency without restrictions Tuesday afternoon.

Gates County Emergency Management is closely monitoring the speed and track of Hurricane Dorian to predict impacts to the county. A local State Of Emergency was put in place as of 12 noon on Tuesday to allow full preparations and staffing to be put into place.

“At this time we would like to remind citizens to use best practices when dealing with severe weather and evacuate from high water and shelter from strong winds,” said a press release sent Tuesday by county officials. “Due to no threat from storm surge, a wholesale evacuation is not expected. As the track of the storm becomes more certain, an emergency shelter may be opened if significant periods of tropical force winds are predicted. Shelter information will be provided once it is determined if a shelter is needed.”

All Gates County emergency personnel are preparing to respond should conditions warrant. Citizens are encouraged to check the Gates County Website and the Gates County Emergency Management Facebook page for updates.

The extended forecast calls for some showers to linger into Friday. Ample sunshine is expected to return just in time for the weekend. Saturday’s high, under mostly sunny skies, is expected in the low to mid 80’s with overnight lows near 60.