Hundreds of thousands were without power and North Carolina was told to take shelter as Hurricane Dorian, still a powerful Category 2 storm, hit the coast of the Carolinas on Thursday en route for eventual drying in North Carolina.
Nearly 245,000 households and businesses were without power, most of them in counties along the coast of South Carolina and inland, and many roads were closed by floods.
Full Coverage: Recent Stories and Video about Hurricane Dorian
"It's just begun. We have a very long night ahead," Governor Roy Cooper said, calling on the North Caroline stay in place.
"Go to safety and stay there," Cooper said. "It won't be a problem. Whether it comes ashore or not, the storm's eye will be close enough to cause major damage in North Carolina." [1
- At 5:00 pm Thursday, a hurricane that weakened to Category 2 was about 45 miles southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and was northeast about 10 mph.
- The storm had maximum sustained winds of about 105 mph.  At least 23 people died in the Bahamas according to Health
- Forecasters said Dorian was expected to stay near the South Carolina coast for several hours before moving near or possibly even drought over the North Carolina coast. at the end of Thursday or Friday.
Dorian was about 45 miles southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Thursday afternoon, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. Tropical wind gusts extended 220 miles out of the eye, and a gust of 74 mph is a registered southerner east of Charleston, the National Hurricane Center reported.
The storm was moving northeast about 10 mph and was expected to remain near the South Carolina Coast for several hours before moving near or possibly even landing over the North Carolina coast late Thursday or Friday, the forecasts say.
Lightning floods were reported along the shores of both Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center reported. It said a "significant, life-threatening lightning flood" was expected north to Southeast Virginia at night.
Officials in Georgetown County, South Carolina, terminated all emergency services while winds subsided enough to guarantee safety, NBC affiliate WMBF Myrtle Beach reported.
Most of Harry County, the fifth largest county in South Carolina, requires commandants starting at 7:00 PM. at least 7:00 on Friday.
A live electrical conductor was pulled down in Charleston, South Carolina, igniting sparks and explosions that could be heard in blocks, WMBF reported. Charleston police urged people to take shelter as conditions worsen, even when images of people climbing the flooded streets of Charleston are shared on social media .
Sarah Hughes of North Charleston said she and her family were sleeping downstairs when a tree collapsed in her son's bedroom on Thursday morning.
"I'm just grateful that he listens, and we all lean down," she said at Columbia's NBC WIS affiliate.
Forecasters say Dorian will produce particularly heavy rainfall in eastern North Carolina, where it is expected to reach 12 inches by up to 15 inches in isolated areas. New Hanover County reported 9 inches of rain Thursday
Rain, storm and high winds were not the only threats. The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado was torn across Emerald Island on Bug Island by Boog Island in North Carolina at 9:06 a.m. Police report to a Washington NBC affiliate WITN that the RV park was severely damaged while the tornado tumbled through and continued to the mainland.
WITN quoted a witness saying that about half of the park's 50 mobile homes were damaged.
At least one storm-related death was confirmed in North Carolina. An 85-year-old man from Columbus County died Monday when he fell off a ladder while preparing his house for the storm. conditions had forced the cancellation of as many as 50 blood drives in Georgia and the Carolinas.
"We lost about 1,100 units of blood and platelets due to the hurricane," Chris Newman, Red Cross donor recruitment district in Asheville, North Carolina, told Winston-Salem's NBC affiliate WXII.
"These units are things we rely on to help meet our patients' needs and their hospital needs," Newman says.
Download the NBC News Breaking News app streets and burying communities in debris, At least 23 people have been killed, Health Secretary Dwayne Sands told NBC News on Thursday and is expected to increase.
The devastation observed in the Bahamas reflects the damage caused to Puerto Rico and Dominica by storms Maria and Irma in 2017, the World Meteorological Organization said in a statement.
At its peak Dorian reached maximum sustained winds of 185 mph and caused violent waves of 18 to 23 feet.
Storm waves are a growing threat to low-lying coastal communities due to rising sea levels as a result of climate change, the meteorological organization said. Rainfall associated with tropical cyclones is expected to increase with global warming.
Dorian is one of the slowest moving cyclones ever recorded. A recent study by federal scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that such storm shutdowns are increasing in frequency among North Atlantic hurricanes, leading to higher rainfall.
Colin Sheeley and Linda Givetash contributed.