Hurricane Dorian is expected to deliver up to 45 mph gusts to the Charlotte area on Thursday, strong enough to down trees onto power poles and roads, meteorologists said.
NWS forecasters zeroed in on Union County in a hazardous weather statement at 6:16 a.m., saying peak 45 mph gusts could topple a few trees and produce “spotty” outages there Thursday afternoon and night. On Wednesday, forecasters predicted gusts of 40 mph.
“Brief periods of heavy rainfall will also be possible from late this morning through the afternoon,” according to Thursday’s NWS statement.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport could see gusts as high as 29 mph during the day Thursday and up to 28 mph Thursday night from the category 2 hurricane, according to the latest NWS forecast at 9:52 a.m. Thursday.
Expected gusts for Charlotte intensified Wednesday as computer models nudged the predicted track of Dorian a bit farther west.
Dorian’s projected track shows it moving over coastal waters of the Carolinas throughout the day and night Thursday, National Weather Service meteorologists said
“This track should result in limited impacts across the western Carolinas and northeast Georgia,” according to forecasters in the NWS office in Greer, S.C. “However, gusty winds are expected across the Piedmont Thursday into Friday.”
Although the eye of Dorian was off the coast of Florida at sunrise Wednesday, NOAA satellites showed its outer bands of clouds extending to Charlotte.
The high in Charlotte is forecast to drop from 92 Wednesday to 84 Thursday, NWS forecasters said.
The chance of showers in Charlotte on Thursday remains slight, however — 30% during the day and night, mainly after 2 p.m., NWS forecasters said Thursday morning.
Justin Lane of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., said Wednesday that between 1/4 and 1/2 inch of rain is possible in areas east of Interstate 77 and south of I-85.
“However, winds will probably prove to be the greater concern,” Lane told the Observer.
In Union County, Lane said, “peak afternoon gusts in the 40-45 mph range are now expected.“
Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday should be mostly sunny in Charlotte, with expected highs of 89 Friday, Saturday and Sunday and 90 on Monday. Gusts are forecast to diminish to as high as 18 mph Friday, forecasters said.
By 10 a.m. Thursday, 117 flights had been canceled and 21 delayed since midnight at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Many of the cancellations and delays involved flights to and from airports along coastal South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, according to FlightAware.com.
On Wednesday, N.C. Department of Transportation officials said the state-operated Piedmont and Carolinian trains were still running on normal schedules between Charlotte and Raleigh, as were Amtrak’s Crescent Trains 19 and 20.
On Thursday and Friday, these trains likely will be canceled, state officials said:
Palmetto (Trains 89, 90).
Silver Star (Trains 91, 92/1092).
Silver Meteor (Trains 97, 98).
Correspondent Steve Lyttle contributed.