The National Weather Service says it will be most likely late Thursday night or early Friday morning before tropical storm force winds arrive, giving a little more time for preparation and evacuation ahead of Hurricane Dorian.
But that does not mean that any of the expected impacts have changed, and potential rainfall totals have increased in the briefing issued Wednesday morning by the Newport/Morehead City and Wakefield weather offices.
Hurricane and storm surge warnings are now in effect for the entire Outer Banks, as well as all of mainland Hyde, Dare and Currituck counties.
On Wednesday at 11 a.m., Dorian had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. A slow weakening is expected during the next few days. However, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during this time.
The center of the hurricane was 460 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, with hurricane force winds extended 70 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds covering 175 miles.
Movement of the storm was north-northwest at 9 mph. A turn toward the north is expected tonight, followed by a turn toward the northeast on Thursday.
The worst storm surge flooding is currently forecast for the southern end of the Pamlico Sound, western end of Albemarle Sound, and the adjoining river headwaters.
Water levels could begin to rise well in advance of the arrival of strong winds. The surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.
David Glenn, a forecaster at NWS Newport, pointed out that while there is still a threat of major soundside inundation, Dorian will be moving at a much faster forward speed than previous benchmark storms like Irene in 2011 and Florence last year.
There is also the potential for oceanside storm surge flooding, as winds from the storm will be mostly from an easterly direction unless the center comes closer to shore.
Storm surge and rainfall flooding is the main cause of deaths associated with tropical systems. Rainfall could total between 6 and 10 inches, with isolated spots receiving as much as 15 inches from Dorian.
Maximum sustained winds from the storm are expected to peak in the hurricane force range over much of the Outer Banks and soundside areas of Dare and Hyde counties, while inland northeastern North Carolina will see strong tropical storm force winds.