Experts are warning Florida residents to prepare as Hurricane Dorian makes its way to the U.S. mainland with the potential to strengthen into a Category 4 storm.
Hurricane Dorian grew to a Category 2 storm on Thursday, sending Florida residents flocking to local grocery stores to stock up on food and supplies, the Associated Press reported. The storm is expected to intensify in the coming days and potentially grow into a catastrophic Category 4 storm by the time it hits the U.S. between southern Georgia and the Florida Keys on Monday, the AP reported.
“Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane later today, and it will remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane while it moves near the northwestern Bahamas and approaches the Florida peninsula into early next week,” the National Hurricane Center said.
University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy told the AP that “a lot of people are going to be affected” by Hurricane Dorian. And President Donald Trump canceled a trip to Poland to focus on storm response, the AP reported.
“There is an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the Florida east coast late this weekend or early next week, although it is too soon to determine where the highest storm surge will occur,” the National Hurricane Center said in a Thursday update. “Residents should have their hurricane plan in place, know if they are in a hurricane evacuation zone, and listen to advice given by local emergency officials.”
As of Friday morning, the hurricane’s center was about 660 miles east of West Palm Beach and had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, CBS News reported. CBS News weather producer David Parkinson said wind speeds could reach a catastrophic 140 mph before the storm makes landfall.
Watch as the eye of #HurricaneDorian2019 begins to form in this 1-minute visible loop from NOAA's #GOESEast. "Dangerous Hurricane #Dorian poses a significant threat to #Florida and the northwestern #Bahamas," according to the @NHC_Atlantic. Latest: https://t.co/W7u6rft9x2 pic.twitter.com/AuDJst6smv— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) August 30, 2019
The National Weather Service said the storm could bring “a triple-threat of dangers” including a “life-threatening storm surge,” heavy rains and “devastating hurricane-force winds.”
“The onset of tropical storm force winds could be as soon as Saturday evening,” officials added in a tweet. “Prepare NOW.”
As Hurricane #Dorian approaches, I’ve declared a state of emergency to ensure local governments and emergency management agencies have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared. Please continue to follow local reports and @FLSERT for updates. https://t.co/FyQM6wd8er— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) August 28, 2019
The storm did not leave as much damage as experts thought when it touched Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, according to the AP. But the storm is growing as it approaches the U.S., drawing its strength from warm, open waters.
Now, Florida residents are bracing for what’s to come.
Tropical-storm-force winds from #Dorian could begin in parts of Florida *as early as* Sunday morning. Now is the time to think about what kinds of preparations you might need to make and listen to advice from your local emergency officials https://t.co/yChCF6oWL9 pic.twitter.com/KAFnJSd0Gy— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 30, 2019
Tiffany Miranda, of Miami Springs, told the AP that she saw dozens of vehicles lined up for gas after she spent half an hour at BJ’s Wholesale Club.
“You never know with these hurricanes. It could be good, it could be bad,” she said. “You just have to be prepared.”
Another resident, Josefine Larrauri, said she found very few supplies left at a Miami Publix.
“I feel helpless because the whole coast is threatened,” she told the AP. “What’s the use of going all the way to Georgia if it can land there?”