Hurricane Dorian powered toward Florida with increasing fury Friday, becoming an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm but leaving forecasters uncertain whether it would make a direct hit on the state's east coast or inflict a glancing blow.
Update 9 p.m.: Hurricane Dorian powered toward Florida with increasing fury Friday, becoming an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm but leaving forecasters uncertain whether it would make a direct hit on the state's east coast or inflict a glancing blow.
Hurricane Dorian continued to strengthen Friday evening as it continued its march across the Atlantic toward Florida’s east coast.
The storm is moving west-northwest at 10 mph, slower than it had been on Thursday.
The center line of the forecast track calls for it to make landfall north of Fort Pierce, but forecasters warn that the center path is an uncertain one and that any area in the cone of possibility is at risk.
Update 5 p.m.: Hurricane Dorian remains a Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds.
As of 5 p.m., it was about 595 miles east of West Palm Beach heading west-northwest at 9 mph.
A hurricane warning is now in effect for the northwestern Bahamase excluding Andros Island, which is under a hurricane watch.
The latest satellite images show an organizing Dorian with a distinct eye surrounded by a ring of very deep convection.
Update, 2 p.m.: Hurricane Dorian has upgraded to a Category 3 storm as it makes its way to Florida's eastern coastline.
In the latest update from the National Weather service, forecasters say the hurricane has sustained winds of 115 mph with higher gusts as it continues to move northwest in the Atlantic Ocean at 10 mph.
Update, 11 a.m.: Hurricane Dorian is slowing its roll but continues to threaten to barrel into Florida’s coast with a Category 4 assault early Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center reported at its 11 a.m. EDT update.
The center line of the morning's forecast takes aim at the border of Palm Beach and Martin counties, but that is no guarantee that's where Dorian will make landfall, with all of the state's coast in the cone of probability.
With the slow down in forward speed, the earliest South Florida could feel tropical storm-force winds is early Sunday morning, with Central and North Florida feeling them later in the afternoon and evening. The most likely arrival time of winds is late Sunday for southeast Florida and as late as Monday night for North Florida.
Meteorologists said their biggest concern will be Dorian’s sluggish crawl as it nears Florida, placing some areas of the state at an increasing risk of a” prolonged, drawn out event of strong winds, dangerous storm surge and heavy rainfall.”
National Hurricane Center specialist Robbie Berg said models are in good agreement through Sunday on where Dorian will track, but there is more spread as Tuesday and Wednesday approach.
Here are the 5 AM AST/EDT August 30 Key Messages for Hurricane #Dorian. A prolonged period of hazardous weather conditions that could last for a couple of days is possible across parts of Florida early next week. Visit https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB for more info. pic.twitter.com/5n4nGwYNfB— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 30, 2019
Gov. Ron DeSantis is scheduled to visit the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center at 11:30 a.m.
At 11 a.m., Dorian is a Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds - just below Category 3 strength. That is expected to change soon as wind shear reduces and the storm intensifies into a major Category 3 hurricane.
The storm is about 660 miles east of West Palm Beach, traveling northwest at 10 mph. The minimum central pressure is 972 mb.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from Dorian’s center. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles.
A hurricane watch has been issued for the northwestern Bahamas, which means tropical storm force winds are expected in that area within 48 hours.
Tropical storm or hurricane watches could be possible for areas of Florida later Friday.
National Hurricane Center Ken Graham stressed that Dorian is a not just a coastal problem. The dangerous storm is expected to maintain major hurricane strength deep inland before making a right turn.
The center of the forecast cone cuts through Orlando with winds of about 75 mph - Category 1 strength.
Graham said the storm could slow to 4 mph as it reaches the coast.
"That means more rain, longer winds for a longer period of time," Graham said. "You have a longer onshore flow, which means more of a potential push of water inland."
Palm Beach County declared a state of emergency Thursday, while Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded the statewide state of emergency to all 67 Florida counties.
As of Thursday afternoon, no Palm Beach County evacuations had been ordered and no shelters had opened.
While the models concur that Dorian will move near or over the northernmost islands of the Bahamas Sunday and Monday, those models disagree on exactly when and where Dorian will make its turn from there, according to the update.
Forecast track errors at five days out are nearly 230 miles. That shrinks to 173 miles at four days and 117 miles at three days. By two days before a strike, the error rate is just 62 miles.
“There is uncertainty in the track because the models are having trouble deciding this far out how strong the major players – the Bermuda High to the north and an upper level low to the west – are going to be,” said Erik Salna, a meteorologist and associate director of Florida International University’s Extreme Events Institute. “The models are saying they know the story until Sunday, then we don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s not what anyone wants to hear.”
#Florida landfall forecast for Hurricane #Dorian (as a Category 4 storm) continue to shift south. Visit @NHC_Atlantic for the latest info on watches, warnings and key messages at https://t.co/AGvxTjm45H pic.twitter.com/ouLMYiEFen— UW-Madison CIMSS (@UWCIMSS) August 30, 2019
But meteorologists are certain Floridians are in for a rough ride.
“Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane on Friday and remain an extremely dangerous hurricane through the weekend,” the hurricane center’s forecasters warned.
With each forecast, Dorian’s arrival has been pushed back. Once expected mid-Labor Day weekend, this morning’s update has Dorian still offshore at 2 a.m. Monday with 140 mph winds and arriving 24 hours later - early Tuesday morning.
While storms can buzz-saw through the state, Dorian is expected to linger, turning north after coming ashore. The forecast puts the cyclone in Central Florida as a Category 1 Wednesday.
South Florida can expect to see tropical storm conditions with winds of 39 mph or greater by Sunday morning. Those conditions will blanket the peninsula by evening and reach the Panhandle by Monday as Dorian approaches the east coast.
“The situation is becoming increasingly dangerous and life-threatening,” National Weather Service meteorologists in Melbourne wrote in a morning forecast. “Hurricane Dorian is placing all east central Florida at risk.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.