Storm strengthens on path to Florida | News Coverage from USA

Storm strengthens on path to Florida

As a strengthening Hurricane Dorian hurtled toward Florida on Saturday, a new tracking forecast suggested the storm could move east of the Sunshine State. But forecasters warned Floridians not to ease up on preparations for a devastating storm early next week.

The National Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. EST advisory that Dorian, packing near 145 mph winds as a Category 4 “major” hurricane, was located about 445 miles east of West Palm Beach and moving west at 12 mph.

The NHC said the latest track suggested that the core of Dorian should move over the Atlantic well north of the southeastern and central Bahamas Saturday and near or over the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday. That would put it near the Florida east coast late Monday.

Stay updated on Dorian this weekend: Get USA TODAY’s Daily Briefing in your inbox

With the track in flux, the NHC also said the risk of strong winds and life-threatening surge was increasing along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina during the middle of next week.

“It should be noted that the new forecast track does not preclude Dorian making landfall on the Florida coast, as large portions of the coast remain in the track cone of uncertainty,” the Hurricane Center said.

Officials in Brevard and Martin counties on Florida’s east coast announced mandatory evacuations for residents of barrier islands and low-laying areas in advance of Hurricane Dorian, beginning Sunday morning. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded state of emergency declarations throughout all of Florida’s 67 counties and warned Floridians to have a hurricane plan in place.

Shoppers were lining up to buy supplies and water as waits at gas stations grew. Some scattered fuel shortages were reported Friday. Sandbags were also being distributed by local governments. National guard troops are expected to be deployed in the comings days, too.

President Donald Trump, who canceled a trip to Poland to monitor the storm from Camp David, also declared a state of emergency to facilitate federal recovery efforts for the storm’s potential destruction.

 A prolonged period of storm surge, high winds, and rainfall is possible in portions of Florida into next week, including the possibility of hurricane-force winds over inland portions of the Florida peninsula.

Heavy rains, capable of life-threatening flash floods, are expected over portions of the Bahamas and coastal sections of the southeastern United States this weekend through much of next week. Forecaster said some areas could get up to a foot of rain, with isolated areas hit by up to 15 inches.

“You’re looking at a potentially significant water event throughout portions of the state,” DeSantis told reporters Friday.

Tropical storm conditions with high-powered winds could arrive as early as Saturday night.

Florida Power and Light, which operates more than 48,000 miles of overhead power lines, activated its emergency response plan and will have nearly 13,000 employees on hand to restore power after the storm, the utility said in a news release Friday. It was also working with utilities across the country to secure additional resources and position crew before the storm hits.

Florida residents scrambled to get last minute provisions. Josefine Larrauri, a retired translator, told the Associated Press that she went to a Publix supermarket in Miami only to find empty shelves in the water section.

“I feel helpless because the whole coast is threatened,” she told the news agency. “What’s the use of going all the way to Georgia if it can land there?”

Lauren Harvey, 51, in Vero Beach, told the AP this was her first hurricane alone in Florida and that she felt unprepared.

“I just moved here, so I’m lost,” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” 

In the Bahamas, a direct hit was likely Sunday into Monday. Storm surge there could reach as much as 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels with onshore winds.

Large, destructive waves are also likely, the hurricane center says.

Major cruise lines began rerouting ships and airlines began allowing travelers to change their reservations without an extra charge.

Contributing: Doyle Rice and Ryan Miller, USA TODAY. The Associated Press

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *