The governor of North Carolina has ordered a mandatory evacuation of barrier islands as Hurricane Dorian approaches.
The mandate will go into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday for all barrier islands from the Virginia line to the South Carolina line. The barrier islands include the Outer Banks, Shackleford Banks, Bogue Banks and Bald Head Island.
Gov. Roy Cooper said the state is under an “imminent threat” from Dorian, which is expected to pass or make landfall “on or about” Wednesday evening.
The Outer Banks could be the closest Hurricane Dorian comes to landfall.
As barrier islands, the Outer Banks can easily become a trap for tourists and residents once torrential rain starts to cover side roads and storm surge washes out the only highway, N.C. 12.
By then, the ferries will have long since stopped running, offering little chance of escape.
A sense of urgency on the islands began Sunday, when Cape Lookout National Seashore was the first to call for tourists to leave the national park by Tuesday.
Dare County — which encompasses nearly one-third of the Outer Banks — followed by announcing a mandatory evacuation of tourists and residents, including the entire populations of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo.
Hyde and Carteret counties to the south of Dare also declared a state of emergency, with Hyde canceling ferry rides to the islands and warning residents to have an evacuation plan ready.
The governor said Tuesday that residents and visitors should follow any earlier evacuation orders from local authorities.
“We have seen the life and death effects of this storm in the Bahamas, and we urge everyone on the islands at the coast to leave,” Cooper said in a news release.
Dorian could pose significant risk of property damage, injury and death, Cooper’s order said.
“Please keep in mind that highways along the coast frequently suffer overwash during periods of surge and everyone should make their evacuation plans accordingly,” Hyde County officials said in a press release.
Currituck County issued a mandatory evacuation notice for the Corolla and Carova areas of the northern Outer Banks, starting 8 a.m. Wednesday.
“Local rainfall could be up to 15 (inches), depending on the final path of the storm, with 2-3 (feet) of storm surge,” the county warned. “Residents should be aware of possible flooding throughout the community.”
Carteret County, which includes the Bogue Banks area south of Cape Lookout, issued a mandatory evacuation plan late Tuesday for portions of the county nearest the coast, including the Down East waterfront area. The Bogue Banks also adopted a mandatory evacuation, with residents ordered to “be in a safe place by 10 a.m. Thursday.”
Forecasters expect Dorian could fall to a Category 1 hurricane by the time it reaches the Carolinas, with winds of 74 to 95 mph. The storm currently has sustained winds of 115 mph and is moving northwest at 1 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“The hurricane will then move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late (Tuesday) through Wednesday evening, very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over the North Carolina coast late Thursday,” forecasters predict.
Hurricane force winds are extending out up to 60 miles from the center of the storm, and tropical storm force winds (39 to 73 mph) are being felt 175 miles away, according to the National Hurricane Center.