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UPDATE: National Weather Service confirms powerful EF2 tornado hit Emerald Isle during Dorian

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Update 2:45 p.m. Monday: The National Weather Service in Morehead City, N.C., confirmed Monday that a EF2 tornado hit Emerald Isle while Hurricane Dorian lashed the Carolinas on Thursday. 

In as statement issued Monday morning, the weather service said between 9:02 a.m. and 9:31 a.m. a waterspout near Bogue Inlet pier came ashore as a tornado that had a maximum wind speed of 115 miles per hour.

The twister's path was 200 yards wide and 13 miles long. 

"The waterspout was quite large when it was offshore and was viewed by the Bogue Inlet pier web cam courtesy of surfline. The most intense damage was found here," said the NWS summary of the incident. "In the middle of the path, where the winds were strongest, numerous RV type homes suffered complete destruction."

There were at least three dozen preliminary reports of tornadoes across eastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina during the passage of Dorian.

Read the full report HERE.


Thursday: A North Carolina beach town is reporting damage from a tornado that was spun off as Hurricane Dorian approaches.

Emerald Isle, North Carolina, said in a news release on its website that the waterspout touched down around 9 a.m. Thursday. More than a dozen campers were knocked on their side, their metal skin mangled and twisted. Some were flipped upside-down, with their tires now aimed toward the sky. A blue beach chair was left dangling, suspended in the wires that held up a power line. Other power lines were downed across a parking lot, where trash was strewn everywhere.

Other tornados spun off by Dorian's outer bands struck other areas along the coast.

By late morning, heavy rain was falling sideways, trees were bending and traffic lights were swaying as Emerald Isle hunkered down again. The city was ground zero in 1996's Hurricane Fran, which was the last major hurricane to make landfall in North Carolina. Emerald Isle also weathered Hurricane Florence in 2018 and a half-dozen other hurricanes in between.

Dorian's maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly to 110 mph (175 kmh), making it once again a Category 2 hurricane.

That's still strong enough to cause damage along the coast of the Carolinas, where the storm is now close enough for hurricane-force winds to hit land.

Forecasters say Dorian's center at 11 a.m. EDT was about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, still moving north off the coast at about 8 mph (13 kmh). Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

The National Hurricane Center says large and destructive waves up to 8 feet high could be seen in Myrtle Beach if peak surge happens during high tide.


60 photos of Dorian damage and recovery along the N.C. coast

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John Boyer

John Boyer, the RTD's staff meteorologist

John Boyer is the first staff meteorologist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the RTD newsroom in November 2016 after covering severe weather on television in Tulsa, Okla.

As a native of the Roanoke area, the region’s heavy snowstorms started his fascination with Virginia’s changing weather.

Boyer earned his degree in meteorology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He is a member of the American Meteorological Society and earned their Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal in 2012.

Look for his stories in the RTD and on Richmond.com, along with videos and forecast updates for major weather events in our area.

Email him your story ideas and weather tips.

Thursday Weatherline

December a quiet month for tornadoes

December is Virginia’s quietest month for tornadoes, with just two reported in 69 years of records: Chesterfield County on Dec. 1, 1974, and Dinwiddie County on Dec. 5, 1977. Tornado warnings were issued in December 2000, 2008, 2009 and 2010, but with no sightings.

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