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What the East Coast of the U.S. can expect from Hurricane Dorian

After causing calamity in the northern islands of the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian is just offshore from northern South Carolina and southern North Carolina Thursday. When will this storm conclude its path of destruction? The National Hurricane Center's Ed Rappaport joins Judy Woodruff to discuss Dorian's impending landfall and the life-threatening water it will bring.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Let's find out more about where Dorian is right now, the projected path in coming hours, and what it can mean for the rest of the Carolinas and farther up the Eastern Seaboard.

    Ed Rappaport is the deputy director of the National Hurricane Center. And he joins us from Miami.

    Ed Rappaport, hello again.

    So, tell us, where is Dorian now?

  • Ed Rappaport:

    At this hour, Dorian is centered — and you can see very clearly the eye — that eye is located about 45 miles from Myrtle Beach, about 85 miles from Wilmington.

    During the day, it's been gradually drawing closer to the coast. And the forecast has it actually coming ashore likely later tonight or early tomorrow, perhaps in the southern part of North Carolina or on the Outer Banks.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, coming ashore, does that — is that more of a sign of potentially more damage? Or what do you expect?

  • Ed Rappaport:

    That's right.

    Even with the center offshore today, we have seen winds of hurricane-force from about Charleston northward. But the strongest winds are still offshore. And as the center makes its landfall, those winds will come over the shoreline. And we would expect to have wind gusts exceeding 100 miles per hour observed, reported over the next 12 to 18 hours, as the center passes across Southeastern North Carolina.

    And those winds will be falling pretty much the way the rain bands are moving here, moving water ashore. And so we expect there to be a storm surge that could be life-threatening along the coastline.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what about the speed of this hurricane? Has it sped up since its very, very slow origin there in the Bahamas?

  • Ed Rappaport:

    Yes, it's gradually accelerating. And that's good news, as it won't linger too long in any one place.

    The system is now moving, the center is moving towards the Northeast — pardon me — the Northeast about 10 miles per hour, and over the next 24 hours will be accelerating further, and then pulling away from the coast during the evening hours tomorrow.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Have you learned at this point — Ed Rappaport, can we understand any better why this storm seems to have been so unpredictable?

  • Ed Rappaport:

    Well, actually, the forecast has not been off by that much. We did think it was going to — the hurricane was going to take a run towards South Florida, as it did in a couple days ago, and then slow and turn and take a course roughly parallel to the coastline up through the Southeast. And that's roughly what happened. Didn't get all the details right,. but I think the sense of what to expect in both the Bahamas and the Southeastern United States was covered pretty well in the messaging.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We're now hearing about tornadoes being spawned. Do they have connection to the hurricane? Or is that an independent thing?

  • Ed Rappaport:

    On occasion, there are tornadoes associated with hurricanes. And often, as they are in this case, they occur in these outer bands well ahead of the center. And that's what we saw earlier today.

    And there is some risk still for tornadoes during the overnight hours tonight.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And the last thing I want to ask you is, just for folks who may be in the path, South Carolina, North Carolina, Southern Virginia, what do they need to be on the lookout for?

  • Ed Rappaport:

    We talked about the winds, that they could have wind gusts at least over 100 miles per hour.

    The greatest concerns are going to be, as often is the case, is the water, the depths of the water. And here we have the forecast for the inundation from storm surge, can reach four to seven feet along the coast, particularly in the northern part of South Carolina, up through North Carolina, and even some inundation expected in the southeastern part of Virginia.

    This is considered life-threatening at these levels. We also are concerned about excessive rainfall in just the same areas, six to 10 inches of rain forecast for coastal South Carolina and North Carolina, locally 10 to 15 inches. And it's the combination of those two factors, storm surge and rainfall, that's going to lead to flash flooding and potentially loss of life in this area.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, we are doing everything we can to get the word out. And I know that you are too.

    Ed Rappaport with the National Hurricane Center, thank you.

  • Ed Rappaport:

    Thank you.

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