The National Hurricane Center reported Thursday morning that Dorian is expected to hit the east coast of Florida by Labor Day as a major Category 3 storm

By Jen Juneau
August 29, 2019 10:21 AM

Hurricane Dorian will potentially become a Category 3 storm before it comes ashore along the U.S. East Coast — and Florida is starting to prepare.

In its 5 a.m. advisory on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center reported that Dorian (currently north of Puerto Rico after skipping the island, and churning through the warm waters in a northwest direction) is expected to hit the east coast of Florida by Labor Day.

CNN reports that the Category 1 storm’s sustained winds as of Thursday morning are at 85 mph and expected to increase sooner rather than later.

“The cone here really stretches the forecast potentially as far north as coastal Georgia and as far south as the Florida Keys,” said CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri of where the storm could make landfall along the state’s east coast, though it is currently predicted around the middle of the state.

“It has a lot of time in very warm water [to strengthen],” added another CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers. “Not much shear, not much dry air and a lot of time to gain strength.”

Hurricane Dorian
| Credit: AP/Shutterstock

Dorian would become a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds at 96 mph, which CNN predicts will happen by Thursday afternoon. A Category 3 is classified as a major hurricane, with sustained winds reaching up to 129 mph.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, “to ensure local governments and emergency management agencies have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared,” he tweeted.

Credit: AP/Shutterstock

In a Thursday morning Facebook post, Orlando, Florida-based WESH 2 News meteorologist Eric Burriss said, “I think by the look of the cone, it’s a day we need to start thinking prep,” sharing a video of the storm’s projected path.

On Wednesday evening, he urged fellow Central Floridians not to panic, and to consider that there have been “about 17 tropical systems within about 100 miles of Dorians position today. ONE made landfall in Florida, and that was back in 2004: Hurricane Jeanne. I’m not saying this will or won’t be a Jeanne, but I’m rather trying to say that there is nothing about Dorian that has been very ‘normal.’ ”

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“It’s moved through the Caribbean Islands in perhaps the ODDEST most perfect way possible, meaning it ‘threaded the needle.’ THAT is the reason we’re looking at a stronger storm — because it never weakened like we were assuming,” he continued.

“If a Category 3 makes direct landfall in Brevard or Volusia Counties, it would be the strongest direct landfall in a long long time,” Burriss added. “The exact angle of impact would play big into storm surge issues, but for now, we just need to be continuing to get our hurricane kits ready. Food, water, medicine for a few days.”

“Think where you’ll need to ride a storm out. Are you in an evacuation zone? The saying always goes ‘run from wind, hide from water,’ ” he continued on Wednesday night. “If you’re inland, unless you’re in a mobile home or tiny home, odds are you won’t need to go anywhere.”

“This is the time where things are starting to come into focus — and we need to start thinking about what to do if a storm of this size comes,” Burriss advised. “IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT THIS STORM CAN STILL HEAD SOUTH OF US OR NORTH OF US — but the possibility of a direct hit can’t be ruled out.”