Hurricane Dorian holds Category 4 strength, slowly moves closer to Florida
A hurricane expert with NOAA talks about Dorian's path and how it continues to move around. USA TODAY
Hurricane Dorian's wind speeds sustained gusts of 150 mph, continuing to classify the storm the storm as a Category 4 major hurricane, according to latest advisories from the National Hurricane Center.
At 11 p.m. Saturday, Dorian's wind speeds sustained at Category 4 strength. Dorian is expected to bring a "life-threatening" storm surge with hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall to the Bahamas come Sunday, according to advisories from the National Hurricane Center. Dorian is 125 miles east of Great Abaco Island expected to move closer to the northwestern Bahamas overnight.
The storm is currently 310 miles east of West Palm Beach. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the east coast of Florida from Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet.
- Location: 125 miles east of Great Abaco Island, Bahamas
- Maximum sustained winds: 150 mph
- Movement: west at 8 mph
- Next advisory: 2 a.m.
Dorian is moving toward the west near 8 mph, and a slower westward motion should continue for the next day or two, followed by a gradual turn toward the northwest.
On this track, the core of Dorian should move be near or over portions of the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday, and move closer to the Florida east coast late Monday through Tuesday. Maximum sustained winds remain near 150 mph with higher gusts.
Dorian is a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Storms with sustained wind speeds of 139 mph but less than 157 are classified as Category 4.
Some fluctuations in intensity are likely, but Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles.
Watches and warnings
A hurricane warning is in effect for:
- Northwestern Bahamas excluding Andros Island
A hurricane watch is in effect for:
- Andros Island
A tropical storm watch is in effect for:
- Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet
A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within the next 12 hours.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.
A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
Hazards affecting land
Wind: Hurricane conditions are expected in the hurricane warning area across the northwestern Bahamas by Sunday, with tropical storm winds beginning tonight.
Storm surge: A life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.
Rainfall: Dorian is expected to produce the following rainfall accumulations this weekend into the middle of next week:
- Northwestern Bahamas...10 to 15 inches, isolated 25 inches.
- Coastal sections of the southeast United States...4 to 8 inches, isolated 12 inches.
- Central Bahamas...2 to 4 inches, isolated 6 inches.
This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods.
Surf: Swells will begin affect the east-facing shores of the Bahamas, the Florida east coast, and the southeastern United States coast during the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Check back for updates.
What can Florida expect?
- Threat: Life-threatening storm surge and devastating hurricane-force winds are possible along portions of the Florida east coast, but since Dorian is forecast to slow down and turn northward near the coast, it is too soon to determine when or where the highest surge and winds will occur
- Slow-moving: A prolonged period of storm surge, high winds, and rainfall is possible in portions of Florida, including the possibility of hurricane-force winds over inland portions of the Florida peninsula.
- Rainfall: 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.
- The latest model runs echo earlier trends, pushing Dorian north and east much faster than earlier forecast. Right now. Dorian remains a threat to much of East Central Florida. The National Weather Service reminds everyone to not focus on the exact track center or minor shifts in the forecast but to remain vigilant and finalize preparations.
What's a category 4 hurricane?
Winds 130-156 mph. Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties, urging residents to prepare with such supplies as food, water and medicines for at least a week.