Hurricane Dorian is a Category 3 storm as of 5pm Friday. The National Hurricane Center reports its maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph, with higher gusts.
But it’s not done strengthening yet. More intensifying is forecast, and
“Dorian is anticipated to remain an extremely dangerous hurricane while it moves near the northwestern Bahamas and approaches the Florida peninsula into early next week.”
Where on the Florida peninsula? Are you living in Dorian’s path?
It’s still too soon to predict landfall but hurricane-force winds of at least 75 mph extend 30 miles outward from the center of Dorian, and tropical storm-force winds extend 115 miles outward.
Before and after its eventual landfall, most of the state will be affected.
You can see the level of uncertainty by looking at the cone of concern. The National Hurricane Center is safely predicting Dorian’s path to Florida, but then the cone blows up like a balloon when it gets there.
Even with more NHC certainty, 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.
Also as of 5pm Friday, the Bahamas issued a Hurricane Warning for the northwestern Bahamas, including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island (Freeport), and New Providence (Nassau). There’s a Hurricane Watch in effect for Andros Island.
A Hurricane Warning means hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions are possible within the watch 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.
At 5pm Friday, the well-defined eye of Hurricane Dorian was moving toward the west-northwest near 9 mph. At the same time Thursday, it was moving much faster and to the northwest, but it started making that left turn toward Florida.
Dorian is expected to slow down even more, which is a bad thing since it means more time for high wind and heavy rain over a particular area — a prolonged period, rather than the storm simply passing by and leaving.
That also means,
“Given the slower forecast speed of Dorian, it is too soon to issue watches for the Florida coast at this time.”
Friday night, it’ll begin to move more westward, and that should continue into early next week.
That would bring the core of Dorian over the Atlantic, well north of the southeastern and central Bahamas, Friday night and Saturday.
The center would be near or over the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday, with tropical storm winds beginning by Saturday night.
A life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels where the wind comes onshore in the northwestern Bahamas. That means large and destructive waves near the coast.
The reason for the westward movement is the ridge over the western Atlantic already appears to be building to the north of Dorian, keeping the hurricane from going north. The ridge is forecast to build even more and steer Dorian on a westward track for the next three to four days.
Then, the center would be near the Florida east coast, late Monday. Still, nobody can say which part of the Florida east coast, but the National Hurricane Center is urging “interests in southern and central Florida” to monitor the progress of Dorian.
But after that, the steering currents will weaken. That should mean the storm will slow down even further, and allow it to head north again.
The National Hurricane Center admits its forecast track five days from now
“is highly uncertain” and “any small deviation … could bring the core of the powerful hurricane well inland over Florida, keep it near the coast, or offshore. The models have not been very consistent … in terms of the timing of the northward turn, but there are more models now indicating that the turn could occur near the east coast of Florida instead of well inland.”
With that latest change, the 5pm Friday forecast cone was shifted “just a little to the right,” but be prepared for additional adjustments depending on future model trends.
Again, people in Florida should have their hurricane plan in place and not focus on the exact forecast track of Dorian’s center.
Rainfall predictions in coastal sections of the southeast U.S. have gone up since this time Thursday, likely due to the storm slowing down. Now, Dorian is expected to produce 6 to 12 inches, with isolated areas getting 18 inches into the middle of next week, and the rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods.
Forget about the beach. Swells are likely to begin affecting the east-facing shores of the Bahamas and Florida during the next few days. The waves are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Friday, Dorian’s cloud pattern became much better organized, the hurricane went over high sea surface temperatures, and the upper-level environment started becoming more favorable.
That forecast of intensification has the National Hurricane Center reporting very descriptively,
“Dorian is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane.”
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.
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 will be more advisories as Dorian gets closer to landfall.
Monitor the progress of Dorian and make sure to have your hurricane plan in place. Keep a week’s worth of the basic items you’ll 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
- Hurricane Dorian off the Carolinas, Tropical Storm Warnings in New England Thurs., Sept. 5, 2019
- Hurricane Dorian off Georgia, Tropical Storm Watch extended to Delaware Wed., Sept. 4, 2019
- More watches, warnings for Florida and up the coast for Hurricane Dorian Tues., Sept. 3, 2019
- Hurricane Dorian to get ‘dangerously close’ to Florida, then other states Mon., Sept. 2, 2019
- Hurricane Dorian’s strength, size means ‘hit or miss’ matters little for Florida Sun, Sept. 1, 2019
- Center of Hurricane Dorian more likely to turn before hitting Florida Sat., Aug. 31, 2019
- Hurricane Warning for part of Bahamas as ‘extremely dangerous’ Dorian heads toward Florida Fri., Aug. 30, 2019
- Hurricane Dorian to intensify, be ‘extremely dangerous’ in Florida Thurs., Aug. 29, 2019
- Hurricane Dorian expected to intensify, threaten Florida as a Category 3 Wed., Aug. 28, 2019
- The latest: Tropical Storm Dorian Tues., Aug. 27, 2019
The latest on Hurricane Dorian:
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.
- 4 hurricanes in 6 weeks? It happened to one state in 2004. (Hint: I was there, reporting on them all, and also the following year, when the National Hurricane Center ran out of letters for storm names, and used six from the Greek alphabet.)
- Wikipedia: 2004 Atlantic hurricane season
- Wikipedia: 2005 Atlantic hurricane season