Hurricane Dorian made landfall along Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, Friday morning as a Category 1 storm bringing 90 mph winds.
North Carolina’s low-lying islands and waterfront communities are bracing for flash flooding and dangerous storm surge.
Nearly 340,000 homes and businesses were without power across the Carolinas early Friday as a result of the storm.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has warned residents who didn’t heed earlier evacuation warnings to stay indoors and “hunker down” until the storm passes.
“Hurricane Dorian is ready to unleash its fury on our state,” Cooper said Thursday.
One storm-related death struck North Carolina before Dorian’s arrival. An 85-year-old man died after falling off a ladder while preparing his Columbus County home for the storm, Cooper said Wednesday.
Dorian is expected to dump up to 8 inches of rain in northeast North Carolina through Saturday, with as much as 15 inches of total rainfall accumulating in isolated locations. The combination of downpours and storm surge as high as 7 feet could cause life-threatening flash floods in the area. Meanwhile, far southeast Virginia could also get up to 8 inches of rain through Saturday, say National Hurricane Center officials.
After slamming North Carolina, Dorian is forecast to further move east out into the ocean Friday night and weaken to a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds by Saturday night, as the storm approaches the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia, according to the National Hurricane Center.
South Carolina has already seen more than 10 inches of rain since the storm brushed by the coast Thursday night. Some streets in the historic port city Charleston were underwater as strong winds knocked down power lines and trees.
Currently, hurricane-force winds are extending outward up to 45 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds are stretching up to 220 miles. The southeastern part of New England is expected to get hit with gusty winds and heavy rain Saturday morning, as much as 4 inches, as the outer bands of the monstrous storm sideswipe the region, according to the National Hurricane Center.
At least 20 tornadoes have been reported in the Carolinas since Thursday. One tornado ripped through Emerald Isle, North Carolina, upending mobile homes and strewing debris across the roads.
Another tornado was reported in Little River, South Carolina, where one resident told ABC Florence affiliate WPDE that they heard what sounded “like a large airplane or a large train coming through.”
Before approaching the United States, Dorian slammed into the Bahamas on Sunday afternoon as a Category 5 hurricane, making the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record. The storm hovered over the archipelago’s northern islands for nearly two days, flattening homes, submerging roads and flooding an international airport.
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Dorian left “generational devastation” across the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, which are both in the archipelago’s northern region, east of southern Florida.
At least 30 people have died in the Bahamas due to Dorian, but the country’s health minister told a local radio station Thursday that the final death count will be “staggering.”
ABC News’ Steve Osunsami, Chris Donato, Max Golembo, Will Gretsky, Melissa Griffin, Reed McDonough, Marcus Moore and Stephanie Wash contributed to this report.