Category 4 Dorian bears down on Bahamas, may skirt Florida

Millions of people in Florida have been in the changing potential path of the hurricane.

Hurricane Dorian bore down on the northwestern Bahamas as a fierce Category 4 storm Saturday, as new projections curved upward enough to potentially spare Florida a direct hit while still threatening it with powerful winds and storm surge.

Forecasters on Saturday said the ever-strengthening Dorian is expected to dance up the Southeast coastline, staying just off shore of Florida and skirting the coast of Georgia, with the possibility of landfall still a threat on Wednesday, and then continuing up to South Carolina early Thursday.

PHOTOS: Florida prepares as Hurricane Dorian looks increasingly dire

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the risk of “strong winds and life-threatening storm surge” will increase along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts by the middle of next week.

The centre also stressed that doesn’t mean Dorian packing 145 mph (230 kph) winds won’t hit Florida, with large portions of the state in its cone of uncertainty forecast. Still, after days of a forecast that put the Sunshine State and President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in the centre of expected landfalls, the changes are significant.

“It’s going to be pretty scary because you’re going to have this gigantic hurricane sitting off the coast of Florida and it’s not going to move,” said private meteorologist Ryan Maue, but with the storm slowing and likely to turn north he adds: “The worst effects of a direct landfall are not in the forecast.”

“At this point the track the hurricane centre is issuing is not the catastrophe that could happen, which is good,” Maue said Saturday.

But it’s not good news for the Bahamas, where some of the most reliable computer models have the storm stalling and dumping as much as 50 inches (127 centimetres) of rain. He said expect two to four feet (0.6 to 1.2 metres) of rain there.

Millions of people in Florida have been in the changing potential path of the hurricane. Forecasters say Dorian, which had top sustained winds of 145 mph Saturday morning, will hover along Florida’s east coast Tuesday and Wednesday.

READ MORE: Former PM apologizes after ‘rooting’ for hurricane to hit Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Floridians not to let their guard down.

“Looking at these forecasts, a bump in one direction or the other could have really significant ramifications in terms of impact. If it bumps further east, that obviously is positive. If it bumps just a little west, than you’re looking at really, really significant impacts,” DeSantis said at a briefing Saturday morning.

He added that even if Dorian doesn’t make landfall in Florida, the state could still be affected by “really significant storm surge” as it heads north along the East Coast.

Trump has declared a state of emergency in Florida and authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to co-ordinate disaster-relief efforts. He told reporters that “Mar-a-Lago can handle itself” and that he is more worried about Florida.

As Dorian closed in, Labor Day weekend plans were upended. Major airlines began allowing travellers to change their reservations without fees. The big cruise lines began rerouting their ships. Disney World and Orlando’s other resorts found themselves in the storm’s projected path.

Still, with Dorian days away and its track uncertain, Disney and other major resorts held off announcing any closings, and Florida authorities ordered no immediate mass evacuations.

But some counties announced mandatory evacuations ahead of time on Friday. Brevard County and Martin County officials said residents of barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying areas would be under a mandatory evacuation order beginning Sunday morning — though they could change. The Brevard County order includes the Kennedy Space Center.

Homeowners and businesses rushed to cover their windows with plywood. Supermarkets ran out of bottled water, and long lines formed at gas stations, with some fuel shortages reported.

At a Publix supermarket in Cocoa Beach, Ed Ciecirski of the customer service department said the pharmacy was extra busy with people rushing to fill prescriptions. The grocery was rationing bottled water and had run out of dry ice.

“It’s hairy,” he said.

Early Saturday, Dorian was centred 445 miles (715 kilometres) east of West Palm Beach. It was moving northwest at 12 mph (17 kph). Forecasters warned that its slow movement means Florida could face a prolonged wallop of wind, storm surge and torrential rain.

Coastal areas of the southeastern United States could get 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimetres) of rain, with 18 inches (46 centimetres) in some places, triggering life-threatening flash floods, the hurricane centre said.

Also imperiled were the Bahamas, where canned food and bottled water were disappearing quickly from shelves and the sound of hammering echoed across the islands as people boarded up their homes. Dorian was expected to hit the northwestern part of the Bahamas by Sunday with the potential for life-threatening storm surge that could raise water levels 15 feet (5 metres) above normal.

“Do not be foolish and try to brave out this hurricane,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. “The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life.”

Adriana Gomez Licon, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Designs for Johnson Street Bridge waterfront areas hit delays

Upgrades to the Songhees Park, surrounding area being presented Thursday

Saanich’s 20-year-old acting mayor encourages other young people get involved in politics

There is a ‘hunger for young voices’ in politics right now

Personal health scare inspires Sidney’s newest gym

Arne Jackson said the scare was a ‘wake-up call’

Victoria’s Belfry Theatre hosts its first ‘relaxed performance’ for a diverse audience

Performance of Every Brilliant Thing is first to pilot the option

Abortions rights advocates urge Liberals to turn politics into policy

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was pressed to clarify his stance abortion over several weeks

12 Sooke events to get you into the holiday spirit

From a Santa parade to classicial music, Sooke has it all

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

Most Read