(NEW YORK) — Dangerous Hurricane Dorian is strengthening and forecast to make landfall on Florida’s east coast overnight into Tuesday as a Category 4 storm.
Now forecast to approach Florida with winds of 140 mph, Dorian, should it make landfall at those wind speeds, would become just the ninth hurricane to do so, dating back to 1851.
While the latest forecast shows Dorian making landfall near West Palm Beach between 1 a.m and 4 a.m. Tuesday, different models show the hurricane taking different paths after landfall.
Dorian is a relatively small hurricane, leaving a lot of uncertainly — any change in the atmosphere can move the storm in a different direction or change its speed.
Some models predict Dorian will make its way north, bringing storm surge to Jacksonville and coastal Georgia and South Carolina. Other models forecast a path across Florida by the panhandle and into the Gulf of Mexico.
“No matter where the hurricane makes landfall, it could impact the majority of Florida,” Peter Gaynor, acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told Good Morning America on Friday.
“The clock is ticking and now is the time for residents of Florida, south Georgia to make preparations,” Gaynor said. “Don’t take this storm lightly.”
States of emergency have been issued in every county in Florida and multiple counties in Georgia as residents scramble to stock up on supplies and board up their homes and businesses.
The biggest threat will be storm surges — ocean water pushed on shore by hurricane winds. One to 2 feet of rain is forecast for the east coast of Florida, and flash flooding is expected.
“We urge all Floridians to have seven days’ worth of food, medicine and water,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday. “This is potentially a multi-day event where it’ll churn slowly across the state.”
“If you’re in an area that has an impact from this storm, you should assume you’re gonna lose power,” he said. “If you’re in an area that flooded during Hurricane Irma [in Sept. 2017] and you’re impacted by this, you should assume that you’re gonna see flooding again after this storm. So be prepared.”
“You will see evacuations,” the governor said. “If you’re in an evacuation zone and you’re ordered to evacuate, please do so.”
Dorian is currently at Category 2 strength with 110 winds. By Friday afternoon, it is likely to reach a Category 3 with winds of 115 mph.
— Scott Bachmeier (@CIMSS_Satellite) August 30, 2019
Dorian is forecast to reach Category 4 strength on Sunday morning as it continues toward the Bahamas, where a hurricane watch is already in effect in the northwest.
On Wednesday, Dorian slashed through the Caribbean, delivering more than half a foot of rain, but it largely missed Puerto Rico, parts of which still haven’t recovered from Hurricane Maria in 2017. Almost 3,000 people died because of that storm.
“Thank God we were not affected,” Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez said Wednesday night. “All the determinations made in the last days were a real life exercise.”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.