Hurricane Dorian has moved away from Puerto Rico and is currently tracking west-northwest towards the United States. Dorian has been gaining strength steadily over the last couple of days and is forecasted to become the first major hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Dorian is currently a strong Category 1 hurricane with wind speeds of 85 mph moving steadily northwest at 13 mph. Dorian will continue to track westward and gain strength over the weekend before it tracks near the coast of Florida on Labor Day.
Models are coming into agreement on the track of Hurricane Dorian with most bringing the storm into east-central Florida just south of the Space Coast. However, the entire state of Florida and south Georgia remains in the cone of uncertainty, which means that all areas of Florida are still at risk for a direct impact as Dorian moves closer.
As of Thursday, parts of central Florida are seeing a higher likelihood of a direct impact. Melbourne, Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach are areas we are closely monitoring at this time. However, once again, the entire state of Florida remains in the cone of uncertainty and forecast models could shift in the coming days.
We are forecasting a shift northward by Labor Day which could result in Dorian closely following the east coast of Florida, a very similar scenario on what occurred during Hurricane Matthew in 2016. This would be the best case scenario since the powerful northeast quadrant of the storm will be primarily over open waters. However, high storm surge, rain, and winds will continue for portions of east Florida.
Another scenario is that the east coast will receive a direct impact and Dorian will move inland, weakening rapidly due to the land interaction, and then turn northward, similar to what Hurricane Irma did in 2017. This would be the worst case scenario, especially for portions of east-central and northeast Florida which will experience the powerful northeast quadrant of the hurricane, which generally produces the highest storm surge and strongest winds.
Conditions remain relatively prime ahead of Hurricane Dorian with very minimal wind shear and warm sea surface temperatures. There is a small area of moderate wind shear just ahead of the storm that could help to maintain its intensity and prevent it from strengthening rapidly. However, this moderate area will do very little to break apart the storm before it approaches eastern Florida.
Sea surface temperatures are maintaining low to mid-80s which will aid Dorian and continue to help strengthen the system.
In preparation for Hurricane Dorian, Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a State of Emergency for all 67 counties in Florida.
Above is a list of suggested items that residents in Florida will need to prepare for the storm. Keep in mind, many areas could be without power for days or even weeks after a major hurricane impacts an area.
Make sure to have plenty of water for each member of your family, including your pets. If you plan to evacuate, do not leave your pets behind. Animal shelters across Florida are taking in pets since many evacuation shelters do not allow them. If you plan to bring your pets with you make sure you pack enough food and supplies for them.
Make sure to fuel up your car as gas lines are usually cut off during a hurricane and may not be restored for some time. Also, make sure you fuel up often if you are evacuating. Traffic is expected to be heavy as residents across Florida move further inland, or out-of-state. You do not want to run out of fuel on a busy highway as a hurricane approaches.
Be sure to bring documentation such as your house deed, an electric/water bill, and valid government ID so that you may return to your home after the event.
Residents across Florida have been preparing for what could be a historical storm all week. Floridians immediately began preparing by stripping store shelves of their water and non-perishable food items.
If Dorian comes ashore as a major hurricane it will be 4 years in a row that the state received impacts from a major hurricane. Hurricane Matthew (2016) stayed slightly offshore but brought storm surge, flooding, and heavy rains to parts of central and northern Florida as a Category 3 storm. Hurricane Irma (2017) carved a path of destruction from the Florida Keys up to North Florida as a Category 4 storm. Finally, just last year, Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle as a rare and monstrous Category 5 hurricane.