National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas as a Category 5 Hurricane during Labor Day weekend. It slowly moved west toward Florida and weakened to a high-end Category 2. As it got to within 100 miles of the central Florida coast on Tuesday, Dorian turned northward and tracked just off the coasts of Florida, Georgia, then South Carolina from late Tuesday through Thursday afternoon (and briefly re-strengthened to a Category 3 before dropping to a Cat 2 by Thu evening). As Dorian moved northward, its wind field began to expand and tropical storm force wind gusts were observed very far from the center of the storm. During the afternoon and evening hours on Thursday, Dorian started to move northeast and missed making landfall in Cape Fear, NC by about 20 miles. Dorian continued to track just offshore of the coast of SE NC Thursday night through 7 AM Friday. Dorian’s only CONUS landfall came as the eye passed over Cape Hatteras just after 8 AM Friday morning. Dorian got picked up by a shortwave trough to the north and accelerated to the ENE during the day on Friday and was hundreds of miles offshore of the VA coast by early Saturday morning.

Not much in the way of rain was observed over the Wakefield CWA on Thursday, but there was a noticeable uptick in ENE-NE winds during the day/evening. Dorian’s outer rain bands started to move into areas of northeast NC just north/northwest of the Albemarle Sound by 10 PM Thursday. Rainfall rates briefly exceeded 2”/hour at times Thursday night. In addition, a few mini supercells developed between 11 PM Thursday-early Fri AM over the NE NC part of the AKQ CWA. This was to be expected, as NE NC was in the favorable northeast quadrant of Dorian with weak instability and enough low-level directional shear for a few rotating mini-supercells. Mesoanalysis indicated 0-1 km SRH values of 200-300 m2/s2. See the Environment section for more information and for a RAP analysis sounding taken around the time of the three tornado warnings in NE NC. Winds continued to increase out of the ENE-NE over the Wakefield CWA overnight, and tropical storm force winds were observed from Hampton Roads to NE NC by morning. In addition, torrential rain fell over parts of NE NC (In the AKQ CWA...mainly from southern Bertie County east-northeastward to Currituck County). This prompted Flash Flood Warnings to be issued. A steady, moderate to heavy rain moved into SE VA shortly before sunrise. 

As Dorian moved toward Cape Hatteras (and eventually offshore) during the day on Friday, winds turned to the north and increased on the back side of the system, as slightly cooler air caused higher winds around the 925 mb level to mix down to the surface (mainly across Hampton Roads, NE NC, and the marine areas). 925 mb winds on the back side of the system ranged from 50-75 knots, and peak gusts at Norfolk/Elizabeth City were in the 64 and 70 mph range (this occurred during the mid-late morning hours on 9/6. These wind gusts uprooted numerous trees and caused some minor structural damage. Unfortunately, there were reports of a few trees that fell on houses (in Norfolk, Chesapeake, and VA Beach). Over the marine zones, hurricane-force wind gusts were observed at Chesapeake Light Tower and Duck Pier, with near hurricane-force gusts over the Lower Chesapeake Bay. Additionally, moderate to heavy rain continued through the early afternoon over Hampton Roads/NE NC (with the steady rain moving over the Lower Eastern Shore as well). The rain continued in these areas through early-mid afternoon (even through they were well NW of Dorian's center) due to (in part) the development of mid-level frontogenetical forcing as Dorian interacted with the aforementioned shortwave trough. Rain totals were 1"-3" from Ocean City to Hampton Roads, with totals of 3"-5" in coastal sections of VA Beach. A few amounts in excess of 7" were observed across NE NC. However, since the area had not received significant rainfall in the week preceding the arrival of Dorian, no Flash Flood Emergencies had to be issued.

Lastly, Dorian caused moderate to major tidal flooding across SE VA/NE NC (with minor flooding on the ocean side of the Lower Eastern Shore). The tide gauge at Edenton, NC nearly exceeded major flood thresholds by sunrise Friday as tropical storm force ENE-NE winds pushed water into the Albemarle Sound. Areas adjacent to the Lower Chesapeake Bay/Lower James River saw water levels peak during high tide Friday afternoon (after the rain had largely ended) as winds became more northerly. The three gauges in/very close to the AKQ CWA where water levels exceeded major flood thresholds were Kiptopeke (VA), the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and Duck (NC). See the Tidal Flooding section for Hydrographs of several of the tide gauges. 

***Data is preliminary and subject to change***



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