As of Tuesday morning, Hurricane Dorian’s track puts it on a path to skirt up the coast of the Carolinas in the coming days. Forecasters are drawing comparisons between Dorian and 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, which brought a foot or more of rain and severe flooding to large swaths of eastern South Carolina and North Carolina.
Dorian’s forecast models keep the storm further east of Matthew’s track. The forecast calls for 6 to 10 inches of rain for most of the Carolina coast, with less inland, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“Locally higher amounts up to 15 inches possible along coastal areas,” Steve Pfaff, with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, forecasts.
The rain is expected to move in Wednesday through Thursday as Dorian tracks north along the coast, Pfaff said.
But, he said Tuesday morning, “any subtle change to the storm’s track can significantly alter the impacts.” A little movement toward the coast could bring more rain and stronger winds. But if Dorian tracks further out to sea, the Carolinas could be spared major flooding and wind damage.
In early October 2016, Hurricane Matthew tracked along the East Coast and dumped torrential rains along the way. The storm caused an estimated $4.8 billion in damage, The News and Observer reports.
“Dorian may track further off the coast than Matthew, but it is also likely to be a slower-moving system, as noted by meteorologist Bryan Norcross in Florida Today. All else being equal, the slower speed would lead to more damage,” according to the Weather Channel.
“Matthew took about a day to move from near Cape Canaveral, Florida, to Wilmington, North Carolina. In contrast, Dorian is predicted to take about two days to cover the same arcing path,” The Weather Channel reports.
“It’s amazing how similar Dorian & Matthew’s path will be. The current 4-7 foot storm surge forecast for Dorian is approx what was experienced also,” NBC meteorologist Bill Karins said on Twitter.
As the storm inched toward Florida, Orlando’s WESH made another comparison: “The path lies between 1999’s Hurricane Floyd, which barreled toward Florida before curving out to sea, and 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, which scraped the coastline.”
Hurricane Floyd also brings back bad memories for North Carolina, as that storm brought a foot or more or rain up through eastern North Carolina and Virginia, according to the National Hurricane center.