Dorian’s maximum winds increased to 140 mph Saturday as it nears the Bahamas then on to the Florida coast by late Monday. About 15 million people will feel the storm’s effects, CNN Meteorologist Rob Shackelford said.
Two years ago, some parts of the state lost power for days — others for weeks — after the terrifying blows of Hurricane Irma.
You’re risking your life if you don’t evacuate, Bahamas PM says
The storm is expected to slow down over the weekend as it continues to spin over the Atlantic, the center said. That doesn’t mean it’s getting weaker.
Forecasts show additional strengthening Saturday, with winds of up to 150 mph, CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller said. Winds from a Category 5 storm range from 157 mph and higher.
Dorian will be moving well north of the southeastern and central Bahamas throughout the day, the center said. The Bahamas is expected to feel the storm’s wrath Sunday evening, with winds up to 145 mph — equal to a Category 4 hurricane.
As Florida residents scramble to prepare, essentials like canned food and water were flying off the shelves.
“The food store is very packed,” Gina Davis told the affiliate. ” … We pray to God that it don’t do us bad.”
Dorian’s exact landfall location is uncertain
The monster storm will begin approaching Florida’s east coast by late Monday, the center said. It’s expected to potentially slow down to a weak Category 4 or high Category 3 hurricane by Monday night, Shackelford said.
It will also shift from a westward track to a more northwestern track as it approaches Florida’s mainland Tuesday night.
It’s still too early to tell where and when the hurricane will make landfall, Shackelford said.
“As of now, it is forecast to approach the Florida coast near Melbourne, but it may move along the coast instead of making a direct landfall,” he added
Forecasts show it will move along the coast northward toward Jacksonville, Miller said.
“Even if there isn’t a center of the storm over mainland Tuesday night … the effects of the storm near landfall (are) still very dangerous,” Shackelford said. “People still need to take heed to the fact that as of now, the hurricane can bring winds of 125 mph when the center reaches its highest proximity to the Florida coastline.”
But officials have already began gearing for the storm’s possible impact.
President Donald Trump said he will attend a Sunday briefing at FEMA headquarters, where they will likely make decisions about whether to evacuate parts of Florida. Dorian looks like it “can be an absolute monster,” Trump said.
DeSantis said the president approved a federal emergency declaration for Florida. The state has 819,000 gallons of water and 1.8 million meals ready for distribution, he said.
And residents should also be collecting supplies, officials say.
“Get water, get gas, get cash out of the ATMs,” West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James said. “The more we hear about this storm, it sounds like a serious one.”
The flooding and storm surge will be dangerous
Dorian has already claimed the title of strongest storm so far in this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. And it could be the strongest hurricane to strike Florida’s east coast since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller said.
One of the reasons Dorian is particularly dangerous is the heavy rain it’s expected to down over the same areas for a long time.
In the northwestern Bahamas, the storm is expected to pour up to 20 inches in isolated areas. The southeast US will be drenched in up to 18 inches of rain in some places.
CNN’s Rosa Flores, Dakin Andone, Madeline Holcombe and Amir Vera contributed to this report.