Hurricane Dorian pushes into North Carolina, spawning tornadoes at the coast & dropping rain in Raleigh

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Hurricane Dorian raked the Carolina coast with howling, window-rattling winds and sideways rain Thursday into Friday morning., spinning off tornadoes and knocking out power to more than 200,000 homes and businesses as it pushed northward toward the dangerously exposed Outer Banks.

Click here for the full list of weather advisories.

Two deaths in North Carolina have been blamed on Hurricane Dorian. Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday that an 85-year-old Columbus County man was the first storm-related death in North Carolina. Cooper said the man fell from a ladder as he was preparing his home for the storm. On Thursday, Pamlico County Sheriff Chris Davis said a man pulling his boat out of the water in Oriental had a heart attack and died. His identity was not released.

As of 1 a.m. Friday, Dorian had weakened to a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, a far cry from the Category 5 that mauled the Bahamas, but still dangerous. The eye of the storm was located less than 50 miles east of Wilmington.

More than 1 million people were warned to leave in the Carolinas, and a round of evacuations was ordered in coastal Virginia as the storm drew closer.

The storm was picking up speed — a good sign — and moving northeast at 15 mph, up 5 mph from two hours earlier.

Chief Meteorologist Chris Hohmann said the new data indicates we may be rid of Dorian in about 12 hours. The eye of the storm had become somewhat ragged, but it remains a formidable storm.

“By tomorrow evening, it’s out to sea,” Hohmann said.

RELATED: 12 tornadoes reported in the Carolinas as Hurricane Dorian nears coast, one touches down at Emerald Isle

The National Hurricane Center’s projected track showed Dorian passing near or over North Carolina’s Outer Banks early Friday, lashing the thin line of islands that stick out from the U.S. coast like a boxer’s chin. Dorian was then expected to peel away from the shoreline.

“Hurricane Dorian is ready to unleash its fury on our state,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a Thursday news conference. “The storm has gained strength. Get to safety and stay there. Don’t let your guard down. Whether it comes to shore or not, the eye of the storm will be close enough to cause significant damage.”

Cooper said there were 68 shelters open with more than 2,200 evacuees in them. 527 North Carolina National Guard soldiers were activated. Many towns enforced curfews.

Tornado Warnings were issued for parts of New Hanover County and Pender County Thursday morning. Dorian is being blamed for spawning at least 12 tornadoes in the Carolinas.

RADAR: See current location of rain from Hurricane Dorian

TIMING

The Raleigh area began seeing scattered showers around lunchtime Thursday. More consistent rain moved into the area during the evening hours. The storm’s rain and wind will pass areas south and east of Raleigh prior to arriving in the City of Oaks.

Heavy rain continues throughout the area overnight Thursday into Friday morning. By 7 a.m. Friday, most of the rain is shifting east. The majority of the rain is east of the I-95 corridor by 12 p.m. Friday.

By the end of the storm, the I-95 corridor could see between 4-8 inches of rain — with areas east seeing more and areas west seeing less.

STAY UP-TO-DATE on Hurricane Dorian coverage: Download the ABC11 app here.

The storm is predicted to pick up speed as it passes North Carolina. That makes it less likely Dorian would dump vast amounts of rain as happened last year during Florence, State Emergency Management Meteorologist Katie Webster said.

“This is a fairly fast moving storm and after talking with the (National) Hurricane Center we have good confidence that that storm will be moving quickly as it crosses our coast,” she said. “I think at this point we are not anticipating the large amounts of rain that we saw in Hurricane Florence.”

RELATED: How does Hurricane Dorian compare to Florence and Matthew

WATCH: Outer Banks conditions Thursday morning ahead of Hurricane Dorian’s arrival

WATCH: Rain from Hurricane Dorian begins falling in Wilmington

WEATHER ALERTS

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Wake County. It also includes Harnett, Franklin, Johnston and extends south to Bladen and east to Lenoir and Pitt counties. Counties east of the Tropical Storm Warning are under a Hurricane Warning.

The difference in the warnings is the speed of sustained wind the included areas are expected to see. Click here for the full list of weather advisories.

RELATED: Schools announce closings as Hurricane Dorian nears North Carolina

POWER OUTAGES

Power outages are likely from Hurricane Dorian — although the extent of the outages are not yet known. Still, utility crews from Oklahoma are on their way to Raleigh to help.

The crews said they received help last week when they were struggling with outages, so they wanted to repay the good deed.

Cooper said Tuesday there will be a mandatory evacuation of all vulnerable coastal areas and two large shelters will be organized in the Triangle to help those displaced by Hurricane Dorian.

PREPARE FOR THE STORM
What to know about generators before a power outage
Here’s what you actually need to prepare for Hurricane Dorian
North Carolina animal shelters taking in pets, livestock ahead of storm
What happens to your home in hurricane-force winds?
Foods to stock up on before a storm hits

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