Hurricane Dorian sideswiped the Carolinas with shrieking winds, tornadoes and sideways rain Thursday as it closed in for a possible direct hit on the dangerously exposed Outer Banks. At least four deaths in the Southeast were blamed on the storm. Twisters spun off by Dorian peeled away roofs and flipped trailers, and more than 250,000 homes and businesses were left without power as the hurricane pushed north along the coastline, its winds weakening to 105 mph by evening. Trees and power lines littered flooded streets in Charleston's historic downtown, the AP reports, and gusts topped 80 mph in some areas. The damage was mercifully light in many parts of South Carolina and Georgia, and by midafternoon many of the 1.5 million people who had been told to evacuate in three states were allowed to return. Still, forecasters warned that Dorian could run straight over North Carolina's Outer Banks by early Friday. "We have a long night ahead of us. Everyone needs to stay in a safe place and off the roads until the storm passes," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. The National Hurricane Center forecast as much as 15 inches of rain for the coastal Carolinas, with flash flooding likely.
Virginia, next in Dorian's path, was preparing for the storm's arrival. Much of southeastern part of the state was shutting down as the hurricane churned up the Atlantic Coast. Virginia Beach announced mandatory evacuations for Sandbridge, home to beach houses that sit along the Atlantic Coast near the North Carolina border. Voluntary evacuations were encouraged in flood-prone areas in the coastal city of nearly 500,000 people; the low-lying region is prone to flooding without much rain. Dorian is expected to bring heavy rains and 2 to 4 feet of storm surge Friday. Schools and universities canceled Friday classes throughout the region. Buses, light rail and ferries won't operate.
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