(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Dorian officially became Hurricane Dorian Wednesday afternoon as it moved over the U.S. Virgin Islands and, quite possibly, toward Florida.
Dorian mostly missed Puerto Rico but the island nation still had strong winds and up to 2 inches of rain in many areas.
In a press conference Wednesday night, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez thanked residents for heeding calls to prepare ahead of Hurricane Dorian but said “Thank God we were not affected.” Vazquez added that she said that this served as an exercise for the public to make sure their emergency plans were in place and that they could be ready for whatever else the hurricane season might bring.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an elevated weather station on Buck Island just south of St. Thomas sustained winds of 82 MPH and gusts of 111 MPH.
On the south shore of St. Thomas, winds sustained at 72 MPH with gusts of up to 97 MPH and the highest rainfall total reached more than half a foot of rain.
Meanwhile, the satellite images of Dorian Thursday morning do not look like a classic hurricane just yet. But with favorable conditions including low wind shear and warm ocean water, a rapid intensification is extremely likely in the next 24 hours.
If Dorian maintains its current path, it is expected to become a hurricane by Friday afternoon with winds of up to 115 MPH and could even strengthen to a high end Category 3 hurricane with winds as high as 125 MPH.
The National Hurricane Center is saying that landfall on the United States will most likely happen on Monday morning in Florida somewhere between Cape Canaveral and West Palm Beach.
However, there is still quite a significant spread of the computer spaghetti models which could point to landfall in northern Florida or even somewhere in the Carolinas. But the general consensus of the bulk of the models points to central and even southern Florida.
Rainfall forecast models indicate that more than a foot of rain could be possible just north of Miami into Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
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