Friday’s forecast shows Hurricane Dorian on the verge of becoming a Category 3 hurricane, and a potential slowdown in its track could mean a Tuesday landfall instead of Monday. Power officials are also warning residents to prepare for up to two weeks without power.
But how strong will it be and where will it land?
Here’s what we know so far:
▪ Dorian is on the verge of becoming a Category 3 hurricane Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane center’s 11 a.m. advisory shows the storm’s maximum sustained wind is 110 mph. Once Dorian’s maximum sustained winds reach 111 mph, the storm will be reclassified as a Category 3 hurricane, which has winds from 111 mph to 129 mph.
▪ Dorian is heading northwest and is expected to officially become a Category 3 hurricane sometime later Friday.
▪ The storm is then expected to continue strengthening into a Category 4 hurricane by 8 p.m. Sunday, according to the forecast.
▪ Forecasters say Dorian will “likely slow down considerably” as it approaches Florida, which will place some areas of the state at a higher risk for “prolonged” strong winds, dangerous storm surge and heavy rainfall.
Where and when will Dorian land?
The track slightly changed Friday morning and is now pegging Dorian to make landfall somewhere near Tequesta in Palm Beach County on Tuesday morning as a Category 4 hurricane. Friday’s forecast shows the storm could arrive Monday or Tuesday.
However, the weather service said the time of landfall is still unclear and that the forecast may change. The entire state of Florida remains in the storm’s “cone of uncertainty,” the weather service said, and can expect to feel Dorian’s tropical storm and hurricane winds as early as Sunday.
Once it makes landfall, Friday’s track shows it moving northward into Central Florida, where it’s expected to decrease into a Category 3 and then a Category 1 hurricane.
Forecasters say people should not pay attention to the track so much and focus on preparing for the hurricane. They also say regardless of Dorian’s track, heavy rains will fall over portions of the Bahamas, Florida and elsewhere into the southeastern United States this weekend and into the middle of next week.
The northwestern Bahamas and coastal sections of the Southeast United States, including Florida, can expect 6 to 12 inches of rain, with isolated experiences potentially seeing up to 18 inches of rain. The central Bahamas may see one to two inches of rain, with isolated areas seeing up to 4 inches. Life threatening flash floods, surf and rip current conditions are possible.
The Bahamas could see 10 to 15 feet of storm surge , as well as “large and destructive waves.”
Where is Dorian now?
▪ Dorian is about 480 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas and about 660 miles east of West Palm Beach, according to Friday’s advisory.
▪ Dorian is expected to move near or over the Bahamas through the weekend. The track shows it moving east of the southeastern and Central Bahamas Friday and moving near or over portions of the northwestern Bahamas by Sunday.
The northwestern Bahamas are under a hurricane watch..
Forecasters warn a dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding in areas of onshore winds in the northwestern Bahamas.
Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Floridians Friday morning that Dorian could be a “multi-day storm.” He said officials have distributed about a million gallons of water and plans to distribute almost two million meals from a central warehouse hub in Orlando.
Florida National Guard commander James Eifert added that 2,000 National Guard members have been activated, and that that number would double by Saturday.
DeSantis said he had submitted a request for pre-landfall disaster declaration Thursday for all of the state’s 67 counties to enable federal resources and funding for emergency measures to reach the state as Dorian pummels the state.
Juliet Roulhac, the director of external affairs for Florida Power & Light, said a Broward news conference Friday that the agency “is in full storm mode” and has “pre-deployed and pre-positioned 13,000 workers” ahead of the storm. FPL is also working with other companies outside of the state to bring in more workers.
“With any storm activation we ask that you prepare for the worst and of course we all hope for the best,” she said. “And in preparing for the worst, be assured that you have supplies, batteries that will sustain you for at least two weeks of power outage. We hope that does not happen, but we want you to be prepared.”
Miami Herald Staff Writers Elizabeth Koh and Carli Teproff contributed to this story.