Dorian was moving over the Atlantic as a Category 2 storm early Friday with sustained winds of 105 mph. By evening, it is forecast to strengthen to a Category 3 storm before heading to the Bahamas on Sunday.
“There is a wide cone of uncertainty of the storm, especially since it is still days from landfall on Florida,” he said. The cone extends from Key West up to around Jacksonville, a distance of 500 miles, he added.
Dorian warrants a multibillion dollar price tag, FEMA associate administrator Jeffrey Byard told reporters on a Thursday conference call.
“This is going to be a big storm. We’re prepared for a big response,” he said.
Since Dorian had minimal impact on Puerto Rico, the agency is shifting staff from the island to Florida in preparation.
Hurricane Dorian has already claimed the title of strongest storm so far in this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.
If it reaches Florida, this will be the fourth year in a row a hurricane of any strength has hit the state. That would be the most years in a row since the 1940s.
And if it reaches Florida as a Category 4 storm as forecast with sustained winds of around 130 mph, it will be the strongest hurricane to strike Florida’s East Coast since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, according to CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller.
Florida residents are stocking up
Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all 67 Florida counties. The state has 819,000 gallons of water and 1.8 million meals ready for distribution, he said.
Florida residents have been stocking up on gas and food for a stormy weekend, and officials are urging those in the state to be prepared.
“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.”
“We usually get hundreds of visitors every day and it’s just been one of those days that drives everyone away. It’s a gorgeous day but the hurricane is just going to kill it all,” Jason Pun, owner of a Cocoa Beach restaurant, told the station.
“it is taking a little bit of a hindrance, especially when we’re supposed to be preparing for one of our busiest weekends of the year,” Frank Figueroa, owner of the neighboring Sandbar, said.
Military and NASA are also making adjustments
To avoid damage from Dorian, the US Navy is moving more than 40 planes from Jacksonville to bases in Michigan, Ohio and Texas.
The US Air Force is evacuating 16 aircraft from MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa to McConnell Air Force Base near Wichita, Kansas, according to a US Air Force official.
CNN’s Paul P. Murphy, Omar Jimenez, LaRell Reynolds, Meg Wagner, Tina Burnside and Daniel Shepherd contributed to this report.