Hurricane Dorian Intensifies to Cat 2, As It Nears Florida

August 30, 2019by Brett Clarkson and Brooke Baitinger
Local media sets up at the Broward Emergency Operations Center, where Broward County officials discussed county preparations in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Hurricane hunter planes have found a strengthening Dorian, which is now a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. advisory on Thursday.

It was expected to develop into a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane, which could strike anywhere along Florida’s east coast between the Keys and Georgia, forecasters said.

Where it makes landfall — this long Labor Day Weekend or early next week — all depends on where and when the storm makes a left turn.

While the European and British forecast models were aiming Dorian toward South Florida, the American forecast model had Dorian tracking across Central Florida.

But some European tracks show an outside chance that Dorian will curl and head north, hugging the coast rather than making landfall in Florida.

What we do know is that this is developing into an extremely dangerous storm, made even worse by the fact that it’s slow-moving. That means it will linger, with ferocious winds and torrential rain, possibly for an entire day. And life-threatening storm surge could strike anywhere in Florida, under the current forecast.

Forecasters warn that Florida could be under devastating hurricane-force winds and possible double-digit rainfall for a day or more, which is many more hours than previous storms.

Seasonal King Tides that are currently affecting parts of South Florida increase the threat of flooding.

The potential impact window will start to come more into focus on Friday afternoon, said Robert Molleda of the National Weather Service’s South Florida forecast branch, when the location and direction of the storm’s gradual turn toward the west-northwest starts to become apparent.

If the turn happens earlier the storm would be set on a path more likely to hit South Florida. But if Dorian continues to drift north, a later turn would carry the storm closer to Central or North Florida.

Because the storm was still far away from Florida, the slightest change in angle could mean a huge difference in where the landfall occurs.

“We’re talking about very small differences here that could make all the difference in the world,” Molleda said in a conference call with reporters.

Broward and Palm Beach counties may have information on Friday on when and if shelters will open. No shelters have opened so far.

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said Broward schools would follow a normal schedule Friday, including afterschool activities.

However, all student activities — “including athletic games, practices and clubs” — and professional development activities across the district,” scheduled for Saturday through Monday are being cancelled, he said.

Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Donald Fennoy said there will be school in the county Friday, but afterschool activities, including sporting events, are canceled. Elementary school aftercare will operate Friday. Staff will spend the weekend protecting the 30 million square feet of schools in the county, he said.

The 11 p.m. EDT Thursday advisory from the National Hurricane Center had Dorian about 295 miles east of the southeastern Bahamas with maximum winds measuring 105 mph, making Dorian a Category 2 hurricane.

Hurricane-force winds were extending outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds were extending outward up to 105 miles.

Wind strength forecasts from the hurricane center said Thursday that Dorian’s peak winds are expected to reach 130 mph as it closes in on Florida — the minimum strength for a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane.

Lines at gas stations and supply stores snaked through surrounding roads Thursday.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded an emergency declaration to cover the entire state, which will ease road restrictions and allow for more fuel to be transported to stations. In the event of evacuation orders, tolls will be suspended, he said.

DeSantis said he expects the state’s Emergency Operations Center to be fully activated Friday.

“If you’re in the path of this storm anywhere on the East Coast of Florida, make your preparations,” DeSantis said Thursday afternoon. “Take action.”

DeSantis said he spoke with President Donald Trump on Wednesday night.

Trump said Thursday that Florida is “going to be totally ready” for the storm.

Trump is canceling a trip to Poland this weekend, so he can monitor Hurricane Dorian.

The National Weather Service’s Molleda said South Florida will likely begin to feel tropical storm-force winds by Sunday afternoon.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, but 95% of storms are produced during the peak period from mid-August to late October, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned that conditions could be favorable for more dangerous storms than initially projected.


©2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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