Hurricane Dorian’s strength, size means ‘hit or miss’ matters little for Florida

DRAWN-OUT CATASTROPHE: At 2pm Monday, Hurricane Dorian was *still* battering Grand Bahama Island.
Its center was about 105 miles east of West Palm Beach, moving WNW at *1* mph!
Earlier Monday, people in the Abacos Islands were warned to stay sheltered until conditions *finally* subside later. They’ve been going through the storm for two days.
Conditions at 2pm Monday: Winds 150 sustained, gusts higher. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles. Safety first. Don’t compare a Category 4 to a 5, but to a 1.


Florida is preparing, including forcing evacuations on this Labor Day weekend, as if Hurricane Dorian will strike.

A punishing Category 5 Hurricane Dorian is devastating the northwestern Bahamas as of 5pm Sunday with sustained winds near 185 mph, and it’s heading west at just 5 mph.

Also, there’s a Hurricane Warning for about 150 miles of Florida’s coastline.

The National Hurricane Center says it’s extraordinary:

“It is not very often that we measure such strong winds.”

Those winds created a life-threatening storm surge that’s raising water levels by as much as 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels, in areas of onshore winds.

The National Hurricane Center started its 5pm advisory with the headline:

“Eye of catastrophic Hurricane Dorian crawling over the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas. Dorian’s fury now aiming toward Grand Bahama.”

Video from Abaco posted at 2:59pm Sunday:

Video from Abaco posted at 2:18pm Sunday:

Dorian has the National Hurricane Center and most people in the state of Florida working overtime on this long Labor Day weekend, and they may be lucky for the long wait for whatever Dorian brings.

The longer it takes to get close or make landfall means more time to prepare.

Hurricane-force winds from the center of Dorian extend outward up to 45 miles, and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.

That’s why a hurricane like Dorian will cause damage even if it doesn’t make landfall.

After Florida, Dorian is expected to parallel the southeastern U.S. coast, either over land or over water. Look below for graphics and links all the way north to Virginia.

Remember not to focus on the exact track since typical forecast errors at day 4 are about 155 miles, and at day 5, about 205 miles.

from the National Hurricane Center

These are the major watches and warnings in effect, as of 5pm Sunday:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • northwestern Bahamas except Andros Island
  • Jupiter Inlet (near the Palm Beach/Martin County line) up to the Volusia/Brevard County line

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:

  • Andros Island
  • the Broward/Palm Beach County line up to Jupiter Inlet
  • Volusia County, FL

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • the Broward/Palm Beach County line up to Jupiter Inlet

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • Broward County, FL
  • Lake Okeechobee

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:

  • Lantana (in Palm Beach County, FL) up to the Volusia/Brevard County line

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:

  • southern Palm Beach County, FL (Boca Raton up to Lantana)
  • Volusia County, FL

There are links below for specific information by county.

A Hurricane Warning means hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions are possible within the area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Warning means tropical storm conditions are expected within the area within 36 hours.

A Tropical Storm Watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within the area, generally within 48 hours.

A Storm Surge Warning means a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline during the next 36 hours. People in these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions. Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions.

A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in the locations during the next 48 hours.

Again, focus on the entire cone, rather than just the line running through the middle, because it considers the experts’ and computer models’ growing margin of error for the center of the storm.

from the National Hurricane Center

Catastrophic hurricane conditions are happening in the Abacos Islands and they’ll spread across Grand Bahama Island, Sunday night.

Hurricane conditions are expected within the Hurricane Warning area in Florida by late Monday or Tuesday.

Tropical storm conditions are expected within the Tropical Storm Warning area on Monday and Tuesday, and are possible in the Tropical Storm Watch area by Monday night.

Dorian’s slower westward to west-northwestward motion should continue for the next day or two, followed by a gradual turn up toward the northwest.

That means the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will continue to pound Great Abaco Sunday evening and move near or over Grand Bahama Island Sunday night and Monday.

Then, the hurricane will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast, late Monday through Tuesday night.

The questions from this site on Saturday remain unanswered:

  • Will it hit Florida?
  • If so, then where?
  • If not, then how close will it get?
  • And where would be the closest place to Dorian?

The National Hurricane Center reports,

“Steering currents are collapsing and Dorian is expected to slow down a little more, prolonging its catastrophic effects in the northwestern Bahamas.”

Forecasters say they’re expecting

“some slight fluctuations in intensity during the next 24 to 36 hours, but the hurricane will continue to be (an) extremely dangerous one during that time. After 3 days, a more definite weakening trend should begin as the hurricane encounters stronger shear. Dorian, however, is forecast to remain a hurricane for the next 5 days.”

Dorian should slowly turn a bit right to west-northwest during the next 48 hours. Then, it’ll turn more north and even northeast, gradually getting faster.

The 5pm Sunday forecast is not very different than the previous one.

Expect forecast tracks to show

“the usual variability to the right or to the left from run to run, but the overall trend is for the hurricane to turn northward offshore but dangerously close to the Florida peninsula.”

Given that uncertainty and anticipated increase in size of the hurricane, a Hurricane Warning and Storm Surge Warning were issued for part of the Florida east coast.

It is once again emphasized, although the official track forecast does not show landfall, do not focus on the exact track. A small deviation to the left of the track could bring the intense core of the hurricane with its dangerous winds closer to, or onto, the Florida coast.


The amount of storm surge will depend on how close the center of Dorian comes to the coast, but will consist of large and destructive waves.

In Florida, the combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded.

If the peak surge occurs at high tide, Lantana up to the Flagler/Volusia County line could get water 4 to 7 feet above ground, and the Broward/Palm Beach County line to Lantana could get 2 to 4 feet of water above ground.

from the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center

The latest rain totals expected from Dorian through late this week:

  • Northwestern Bahamas: 12 to 24 inches, isolated areas 30 inches.
  • Central Bahamas: 2 to 4 inches, isolated areas 6 inches.
  • Florida and Georgia coasts: 3 to 6 inches, isolated areas 9 inches.
  • Coastal Carolinas: 5 to 10 inches, isolated areas 15 inches.
  • Southeastern Virginia: 2 to 4 inches, isolated areas 6 inches.

The rain may cause life-threatening flash floods.


Click below for emergency management websites for Florida’s east coast counties, from south to north:

Click here to find all Florida counties, including inland ones not listed.


Click below for state emergency management websites, followed by links to their Twitter feeds.


Advisories, Watches and Warnings by state:

(The National Weather Service page shows all alerts in effect for the state, and it’s updated every few minutes. I suggest starting by looking for a “Hurricane Local Statement” for your county.)


Maps of advisories, watches and warnings from the National Weather Service. Click each for local conditions, forecasts and other information — plus radar and satellite loops, and details on the color codes below.

Map of Forecast Area
Map of Forecast Area
Map of Forecast Area
Map of Forecast Area
Map of Forecast Area
Map of Forecast Area
Map of Forecast Area

Check your hurricane plan and emergency supplies kit. If you live in a place particularly vulnerable to flooding, plan to move to safe shelter on higher ground. If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately.

Prepare for at least:

  • Some damage to roofing and siding materials, along with damage to porches, awnings, carports, and sheds.
  • Several large trees snapped or uprooted. Several fences and roadway signs blown over.
  • Scattered power and communications outages.

You can now find a map like this for the Philadelphia region on ThePhillyFiles.com’s Weather Forecast for the Week page.


Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

CATEGORY 3 HURRICANE: Marks a “major” hurricane. Maximum sustained winds of 111-129 mph. Devastating damage will occur. Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE: Maximum sustained winds of 130-156 mph. Catastrophic damage will occur. Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE: The worst level possible. Maximum sustained winds of 157+ mph. Catastrophic damage will occur. A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

This page should update on its own, like ThePhillyFiles weather page, so keep returning to see changes. The National Hurricane Center often begins advisories with a list of what has changed since the previous one.

Full advisories come every six hours (5am, 11am, 5pm and 11pm using Eastern Daylight Time) and intermediate advisories come every three hours in between (8am, 2pm, 8pm, 2am). There are now more advisories coming as Dorian threatens landfall in the U.S., so keep returning for graphic updates.

Monitor the progress of Dorian and make sure to have your hurricane plan in place. That means keeping a week’s worth of the basic items you’d need on hand throughout every hurricane season (June 1 through Nov. 30).

Keep scrolling down for tweets and now podcasts from the National Hurricane Center, plus more graphics.


Continuing Coverage: Hurricane Dorian


The latest on Hurricane Dorian:

from the National Hurricane Center
from the National Hurricane Center
from the National Hurricane Center
from the National Hurricane Center
from the National Hurricane Center

The National Hurricane Center is now providing audio briefings (podcasts) when the media pool is activated by the NHC Public Affairs Officer. That usually happens when a Hurricane Watch is initiated for part of the U.S. coastline. The audio briefings will provide the latest information regarding the hurricane threat and its expected impacts.


VIDEO: How to use the Cone of Uncertainty
National Hurricane Center (NHC) Hurricane Specialists John Cangialosi and Robbie Berg explain how the cone of uncertainty is created, what its limitations are, and what it can be used for.

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