Hurricane Dorian Is Headed for Florida As It Strengthens Into a Category 3 Storm
Update: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, 12:23 p.m. EST: On Thursday, Dorian upgraded to a full-blown Hurricane as it passed by Puerto Rico. According to The National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Dorian could hit both the northern Bahamas and Florida over the long Labor Day weekend as a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 125 mph.
While the path of the storm still comes with a certain degree of uncertainty, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t taking any chances. On Thursday, he declared a state of emergency for 26 counties expected to fall under Dorian’s path.
"Please don't think this is just coastal," NHC Director Ken Graham said of the storm’s potential impact in a video update Thursday, according to NPR. "This is over the whole state."
Luckily, Puerto Rico came out of the storm relatively unscathed. Other than drenching the islands with several inches of rain and causes a few power outages, it appears Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands made it out without major damage.
Those in Dorian’s potential path are encouraged to seek shelter and to stay tuned to local forecasts. If your travel plans over the Labor Day weekend include visiting areas potentially in the storm’s path, it may be best to contact your accommodations and airlines to see about alternate planning.
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, 12:41 p.m. EST: Tropical Storm Dorian is hitting Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. According to The Weather Channel, the storm is bringing heavy rains to Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and the British Virgin Islands. And it isn’t stopping there.
After hitting the islands, The Weather Channel reported, the storm could become a hurricane while moving through the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It is then expected to move northwest toward Florida. However, just where it’s expected to land is still a bit of a mystery.
As The Weather Channel noted, the latest National Hurricane Center forecast shows the storm sweeping past the Bahamas by the early weekend. Then, it will likely hit parts of Florida, Georgia, and even the Carolinas over the holiday weekend.
"However, there has been considerable run-to-run variability among the models, so confidence in the long-term track remains low," the NHC said. It also noted that it’s now more than likely that Dorian will grow in size and strength as it moves toward the mainland United States. It could even become a category 3 storm, which means it could have sustained winds of up to 129 miles per hour.
Those in its potential path are encouraged to seek shelter and to stay tuned to local forecasts. If your travel plans over Labor Day weekend include visiting areas potentially in the storm’s path, it's best to contact your airline, cruise line, and hotel to see about alternate planning.
Tropical storm Dorian may graduate to a full-blown hurricane by the middle of the week, weather experts predict. And that could spell trouble for Puerto Rico, much of the Caribbean, and potentially Florida.
According to CNN, the storm is expected to make landfall over the Windward Islands late Monday. It could bring up to four inches of rain to Barbados and Dominica through Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center predicts.
CNN Meteorologist Karen Maginnis predicts the storm could intensify after pushing off the Windward Islands as it makes its way toward the Caribbean. It could reach hurricane status as early as Tuesday.
By mid-week, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski reports, the storm will likely make a northward turn and head toward Puerto Rico.
"Depending on its exact track and intensity, Dorian could cause flash flooding and mudslides across the islands middle to late week as 4-8 inches of rain may fall in some areas," he says.
However, as Pydnowski notes, there are a few factors working against Dorian, which could be good news for those in its path. According to the weather expert, wind shear could cause the storm to weaken over the warm Caribbean waters. And, once the storm passes over the mountainous regions in Puerto Rico and Hispanola it could weaken even more.
But, even slight variations in temperature, wind, and moister could help Dorian become a more organized storm thus making it a bigger threat to all, including southern Florida, which could feel the storm’s effect by the weekend.
However, even as a smaller tropical storm, Dorian could pose a major threat to Puerto Rico, which is still reeling from Hurricane Maria, which struck the island in 2017. That storm, The Atlantic explains, was nearly a category 5 hurricane by the time it made landfall on the island. The storm killed thousands of people, however, due to an intense controversy over how those deaths were calculated, the number could be much higher.
Beyond the human death toll, Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was nearly completely lost in the storm, with much of the island going without power for weeks. A full two years later, the island is still in the rebuilding phase. But, with this latest storm, Puerto Rican residents aren’t waiting around.
“Thankfully I've been preparing since May,” resident Krystal Rivera tweeted. “We've been [stocking] up on water and can [goods] and gas for the generator.”