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Hurricane Dorian, packing powerful winds and dangerous storm surges, made its first landfall in the United States over North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Friday morning.
The Category 1 storm reached Cape Hatteras at 9 a.m. By early afternoon, Dorian was about 125 miles from Cape Hatteras and was traveling northeast at 21 mph with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 2 p.m. update.
A fallen tree and flood waters sit in a hotel parking lot after Hurricane Dorian swept through, in Wilmington, N.C., on Sept. 6, 2019.Jonathan Drake / Reuters
The storm left virtually all of scenic Cape Hatteras without power Friday morning, according to the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative. The utility company said in a tweet Friday afternoon that crews were beginning to access the damage caused by the storm.
Across the Tar Heel State, more than 200,000 households and businesses were without power Friday morning, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. As of 3 p.m., that number had dropped to just over 155,500.
In rural Hyde County, just across Pamlico Sound from Cape Hatteras, residents were ordered to evacuate on Thursday.
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Despite images of flooding on the Outer Banks, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday he is cautiously optimistic that his state could dodge the worst damage.
He thanked residents for evacuating, which helps to keep first responders free to handle other emergencies.
“Just preliminary reports we’re getting from local government officials, at least in the southeastern part of the state, the storm hasn’t been as bad as feared,” Cooper told reporters on Friday.
The National Hurricane Center said Dorian’s center is expected to move away from the North Carolina coast over the next several hours as the storm heads toward New England and the Canadian province of Novia Scotia.
Emergency response officials in eastern Maine and Nova Scotia are now bracing themselves for tropical storm conditions that could hit them by weekend’s end.
Dorian left a path of destruction in neighboring South Carolina, where at one point more than a quarter-of-a-million coastal homes and businesses were left without power.
By 3 p.m. Friday, less than 57,000 customers were without power, according to Dominion Energy South Carolina.
Sept. 6, 201901:29
As of 5 a.m., Dorian was 22 miles east of Cape Lookout in North Carolina, part of the low-lying islands that make up the state’s Outer Banks, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and “hurricane-force sustained winds,” the hurricane center said.
The center warned that “life-threatening storm surge” and dangerous winds were expected along portions of the North Carolina coast, portions of southeast Virginia and the southern Chesapeake Bay on Friday.
NBC News meteorologist Don Tsouhnikas said strong winds, rain and storm surge should subside as the storm begins its track toward Canada later on Friday.
“Conditions should improve this afternoon across North Carolina,” he said.
Two storm-related deaths were confirmed in North Carolina Thursday night.
Full coverage: Latest stories and video on Hurricane Dorian
A video obtained by NBC News Friday showed transformer explosions in Wilmington, North Carolina, as it was being lashed by strong winds and rainfall while photos of the damage in Brunswick County showed rows of houses with torn-up roofs.
Officials in Emerald Isle said a tornado that spun off from Hurricane Dorian hit the beach town as Dorian approached on Thursday, causing severe damage to a trailer park and the surrounding area.
A power company lineman works to restore power after a tornado hit Emerald Isle, North Carolina as Hurricane Dorian moved up the east coast on Thursday. Tom Copeland / AP
A storm surge warning is in effect for Surf City, North Carolina to Poquoson, Virignia, Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, and Hampton Roads.
The hurricane center said the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.
Northeastern North Carolina is expected to get an additional three to eight inches of rainfall, with up to 15 inches in isolated areas.
The hurricane center warned tornadoes were also possible across eastern North Carolina into southeastern Virginia Friday morning.
The storm made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane in the Bahamas last Sunday, where at least 30 people have been confirmed dead so far and the destruction is said to be “apocalyptic.”
Alex Johnson and Minyvonne Burke contributed.