Dorian Strengthens to Category 4, But Florida Has Reason to be Optimistic

John Healy
August 31, 2019 - 10:06 am

Hurricane Dorian has been officially upgraded to a Category 4 storm as winds exceed 130 mph in the Atlantic Ocean as it could potentially become the most dangerous storm to hit Florida’s east coast in 30 years.

Yet there was also some potential good news. Forecasters said on Saturday morning that there is a chance the storm could turn northward and avoid a direct blow to the state and merely hug the coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“There is hope,” meteorologist Jeff Masters of Weather Underground said.

The hurricane is currently east of the Bahamas moving at 12 mph and is expected to make landfall on the islands by 2 p.m. on Sunday and reach Florida by late Monday or early Tuesday.

Forecasters warned that the slow movement of the storm means Florida could face destructive winds, storm surge and torrential rain.

Strong winds and “life-threatening storm surge” could also impact the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina by mid-next week, too, per the hurricane center’s advisory.

On Friday night, models showed Dorian on track to make landfall at Fort Pierce, 70 miles north of Mar-A-Lago in West Palm Beach, and continue to move north along the coastline. Any deviation from this path could cause the storm to continue more inland or move offshore altogether.

A state of emergency was declared for Florida earlier this week by President Donald Trump, who has FEMA ready to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

Florida Governor Rick DeSantis has refrained from authorizing any mass evacuations due to the storm’s uncertain path.

“Sometimes if you evacuate too soon, you may evacuate into the path of the storm if it changes,” he said.

The last time a storm this powerful hit Florida’s Atlantic Coast was Hurricane Andrew on Sept. 2 1992, a Category 5 storm which was blamed for over 400 deaths.