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Hurricane Dorian picks up speed as it continues moving away from North Carolina’s coast

Hurricane Dorian was speeding up Friday afternoon as it moved farther away from the North Carolina coast and toward Canada, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm sped up to 25 mph as it continued moving northeast away from the mid-Atlantic states toward Nova Scotia, which is expected to feel hurricane-force winds late Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. update Friday.

The hurricane is expected to gradually weaken as it speeds toward cooler waters but is still forecast to “make landfall in Nova Scotia with hurricane intensity,” the National Hurricane Center says.

Dorian is expected to dissipate in about three days, according to the hurricane center.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a 4 p.m. update Friday that conditions are returning to normal in the southeast part of the state and that areas were starting to lift evacuation orders.

“Finally Hurricane Dorian has left North Carolina,” he said.

The center of the eye passed the Outer Banks off the North Carolina coast at 8:35 a.m., with sustained winds of 90 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. Parts of coastal North Carolina, including Morehead City, had been within the eyewall for hours early Friday, but NOAA officials say the center of the eye must cross onto land before landfall is official.

Landfall occurred a week after Dorian reached Florida’s east coast and began a slow push north, moving as slowly as 1 mph at times, the hurricane center said.

Dorian’s lumbering pace caused extensive periods of heavy wind and rain along the East Coast, which continued Friday in North Carolina.

Multiple counties near the North Carolina coast saw damage Friday, with highways flooded, some roads washed out and fallen trees trapping people in their neighborhoods, according to social media posts.

In Ocracoke, hundreds of people were trapped on the island, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said.

In his 4 p.m. update on the storm, Gov. Cooper said the island was inundated with storm surge and that it still has no power.

An estimated 800 people remained on the island and helicopters have been deployed to get those who are injured or who want to leave off of the island, Gov. Cooper said.

Food and water have also been airlifted there, he said.

More than 200,000 people in North Carolina were without power Friday, including 22,000 in New Hanover County, 28,000 in Brunswick County and 36,000 in Carteret County.

The outages increased to 231,000 between 4:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., but then began to drop shortly before noon.

By 11 p.m. there were 74,700 outages in the state.

Shelters were opened at 70 schools near the coast, and nearly 5,000 people had taken the offer overnight, according to state officials. Three of the shelters in New Hanover County were reportedly full.

In coastal New Hanover County, residents were being told not to call 911 “unless there is a life threatening emergency.” They were also warned that “Duke Energy will not be responding to downed power lines until day break due to the extremely hazardous conditions.”

New Hanover, home to Wilmington, saw some of the highest gusts (64 mph) and rainfall totals during the storm’s trek through the Carolinas, with 10.25 inches reported at one site, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In South Carolina, a site in Georgetown County had 11.29 inches of rain and a 62 mph gust, officials said.

North Carolina officials have attributed one death — an 85-year-old man who fell — to the storm so far. But Pamlico County Sheriff Chris Davis told WITN a man in Oriental had a heart attack and died while “pulling his boat out of the water” during the storm Thursday.

A NOAA weather station within the western portion of Dorian’s eye reported 69 mph sustained winds and gusts of 75 mph, forecasters said. Gusts of 85 mph were reported by a station at Fort Macon near Atlantic Beach, the center said.

Those winds were decreasing by Friday afternoon, according to the hurricane center.

The eye of the storm was “no longer apparent” as of 11 p.m. Friday, and the storm was becoming asymmetrical, meaning it’s slowly acquiring “extratropical characteristics,” the National Hurricane Center said.

“Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 230 miles,” the National Hurricane Center said.

North Carolina is no longer under a tropical storm or hurricane warning as of 5 p.m. Friday.

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