Hurricane Dorian, now a less alarming but still highly dangerous Category 2 storm, is threatening the Carolinas with dangerous floodwaters and winds, having swept up the East Coast after devastating the Bahamas and largely sparing the heavily populated Florida coastline.
While the hurricane’s eye remains around 50 miles from Charleston, South Carolina, the storm has grown dramatically and has already begun to batter the coastal region with tropical storm–level winds and the occasional hurricane-force gust. And according to forecasts, the hurricane winds should last into Friday morning, when the hurricane will pull away from the coast as it heads north.
The winds aren’t the only danger: Dorian could still cause life-threatening storm surges and is expected to bring 10 to 15 inches of rain, which could trigger flooding. At least two tornadoes have spun off the hurricane in the Carolinas, according to the Associated Press. More than 200,000 homes and businesses in South Carolina have lost power. The storm is expected to pass near or over North Carolina’s Outer Banks Friday.
Just two deaths—related to efforts to prepare homes before Dorian arrived—have been connected to the hurricane in the U.S. But before its swing northward, the then–Category 5 storm stalled over the Bahamas for two days, killing at least 20 people. Some neighborhoods were entirely destroyed, with damage concentrated on the Abaco Islands. A massive search and rescue operation is underway, and it’s likely the death toll will continue to rise.
While Dorian left behind a humanitarian crisis in the Bahamas, it spared Florida’s eastern coast, which had braced for its first Category 5 hurricane since 1992. The storm glanced across Georgia’s east coast before moving toward the Carolinas. The storm was considered unusually hard to predict because of its small initial size and the surrounding weather systems. Three million residents of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas were under evacuation advisories.
While the storm was relatively unpredictable, forecasters had included the possibility that it might make the northeastern swing it ultimately took. On Thursday, though, President Donald Trump doubled down on his false assertion that potential paths of the storm included some of Alabama. “In addition to Florida—South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” he said Sunday. The president’s mistake was corrected immediately by the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, which emphasized that the state would see no impact from Dorian. But Trump repeated the falsehood twice more that day and once on Monday. On Wednesday, the falsehoods verged on the absurd when Trump displayed a doctored, old map of Dorian’s projected paths. The original map clearly ended before reaching Alabama, and someone had apparently used a Sharpie to draw on a black circle looping in a corner of the state.