Hurricane Dorian could present a significant threat to South and Central Florida as it continues to gain strength and inches closer to the Atlantic coastline.
As of 11 a.m. ET, the storm, currently a Category 2 storm, had sustained winds of 110 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center—just 1 mph shy of a “major” hurricane classification. The eye of the storm is now expected to hit the Florida coast around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, but tropical storm and hurricane force winds will be felt well before that. Experts say it could be a Category 4 storm, with winds exceeding 130 mph at landfall.
Dorian’s first target, though, is likely the Bahamas. A hurricane watch/warning has been issued for the northwestern Bahamas. The NHC is warning people in both that area and coastal sections of the Southeastern United States to expect 6 to 12 inches of rain, with isolated areas getting up to 18 inches.
“Dorian poses a significant threat to Florida and the northwestern Bahamas,” the NHC said in its most recent update.
Florida has not yet issued any evacuation orders to citizens along the coast, but 26 counties remain under a state of emergency. Gov. Ron DeSantis said local officials will decide Friday about whether to order voluntary or mandatory evacuations.
While the cone of uncertainty still puts parts of southeast Georgia in the possible path of the storm, most models now have it moving squarely toward Florida. The most recent path puts the storm onshore in the West Palm Beach area. (That would put Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, the so-called “Winter White House,” in the path of the storm.) Hurricane-force winds, though, currently extend up to 25 miles outward from the storm’s center.
Once it hits Florida, Dorian is expected to move northward, retaining hurricane strength for at least 24 hours.