Hurricane Dorian spares Puerto Rico but is expected to strengthen before hitting Florida

Hurricane Dorian mercifully blew past Puerto Rico, but is now barreling towards Florida and is forecast to make landfall on Labor Day Monday as a monster Category 4 storm. 

The hurricane continued his ominous path on Thursday churning in the open Atlantic, headed towards the northern Bahamas and Florida’s eastern coast. 

It is expected to intensify into a Category 3 storm by Friday and could strengthen into a Category 4 with vicious 130mph winds in the following days.  

On Wednesday Dorian was upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane and briefly made landfall in the Virgin Islands and impacted small Puerto Rican islands, causing power outages and minor flooding. 

Once Dorian escalated into a hurricane, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday urging residents to stock up on a week’s worth of supplies, leading Floridians to clean out grocery stores, stock up on gasoline, and protect their homes with aluminum panels.

An update from the National Hurricane Center at 8am EST on Thursday warned that tropical force winds from Dorian, which is currently a Category 1 storm, could start to hit parts of Florida as early as Saturday evening and the hurricane could make landfall by late Sunday or early Monday.   

There’s an ‘increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the Florida east coast and devastating hurricane-force winds,’ NHC warned Thursday.

‘This could be the strongest hurricane to hit Central Florida in over 30 years,’ Fox 35 Orlando meteorologist Glenn Richards said. ‘Hurricane force sustained winds would be carried across the entire width of the state if the current forecast holds.’ 

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Hurricane Dorian pictured Thursday as it barrels past Puerto Rico, sparing the island, and heads towards the northern Bahamas and Florida's east coast, leading Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday

Hurricane Dorian pictured Thursday as it barrels past Puerto Rico, sparing the island, and heads towards the northern Bahamas and Florida's east coast, leading Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday

Hurricane Dorian pictured Thursday as it barrels past Puerto Rico, sparing the island, and heads towards the northern Bahamas and Florida’s east coast, leading Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday

On Thursday morning Governor Ron DeSantis urged locals to stop up on seven days worth of food, water and medicine

On Thursday morning Governor Ron DeSantis urged locals to stop up on seven days worth of food, water and medicine

On Thursday morning Governor Ron DeSantis urged locals to stop up on seven days worth of food, water and medicine

Cleaned out:  Floridians listened to official orders to prepare for the worst and stock up on water, food and medicine that would last for seven days

Cleaned out:  Floridians listened to official orders to prepare for the worst and stock up on water, food and medicine that would last for seven days

Cleaned out:  Floridians listened to official orders to prepare for the worst and stock up on water, food and medicine that would last for seven days

Pictures from Port Orange, Florida show an emptied out produce department at a local Walmart as locals prepare to face the could-be Category 4 hurricane

Pictures from Port Orange, Florida show an emptied out produce department at a local Walmart as locals prepare to face the could-be Category 4 hurricane

Pictures from Port Orange, Florida show an emptied out produce department at a local Walmart as locals prepare to face the could-be Category 4 hurricane

Preparing for the worst: This man in Indian Harbor, Florida is seen putting aluminum panels on his house in Melbourne Florida on Thursday to brace for Hurricane Dorian's impact

Preparing for the worst: This man in Indian Harbor, Florida is seen putting aluminum panels on his house in Melbourne Florida on Thursday to brace for Hurricane Dorian's impact

Preparing for the worst: This man in Indian Harbor, Florida is seen putting aluminum panels on his house in Melbourne Florida on Thursday to brace for Hurricane Dorian’s impact

Bracing for impact: These two Florida residents are seen putting aluminum panels on a hose in Melbourne, Florida on Thursday after Governor DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday

Bracing for impact: These two Florida residents are seen putting aluminum panels on a hose in Melbourne, Florida on Thursday after Governor DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday

Bracing for impact: These two Florida residents are seen putting aluminum panels on a hose in Melbourne, Florida on Thursday after Governor DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday

This updated graphic shows the predicted trajectory of the hurricane which is expected to make landfall either late Sunday or early Monday

This updated graphic shows the predicted trajectory of the hurricane which is expected to make landfall either late Sunday or early Monday

This updated graphic shows the predicted trajectory of the hurricane which is expected to make landfall either late Sunday or early Monday

President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday morning: ‘Puerto Rico is in great shape with Hurricane Dorian taking a largely different route than anticipated. Thank you to FEMA, first responders, and all, for working so hard & being so well prepared. A great result! The bad news, Florida get ready! Storm is building and will be BIG!

‘Hurricane Dorian looks like it will be hitting Florida late Sunday night. Be prepared and please follow State and Federal instructions, it will be a very big Hurricane, perhaps one of the biggest!’

As of 5am EDT on Thursday morning, Dorian was located in the open Atlantic blowing at maximum sustained winds of 85mph, some 150 miles northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Wednesday evening the storm clocked 80mph winds moving northwest at about 13mph and passed Puerto Rico, sparing the island from another disaster as it still reels from 2017’s Hurricane Maria. 

The official NHC forecast predicts the storm will grow into a Category 4 storm and will hit the coast late Sunday or early Monday.  

‘Dorian’s small size makes it susceptible to rapid intensification. This could occur when it moves past Puerto Rico and frees itself from dry air. These quick bursts of rapid intensification are difficult to forecast,’ according to weather.com. 

‘All indications are that by this Labor Day weekend, a powerful hurricane will be near or over the Florida peninsula,’ the NHC in Miami said in an advisory.  

President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday morning: 'Puerto Rico is in great shape with Hurricane Dorian taking a largely different route than anticipated. Thank you to FEMA, first responders, and all, for working so hard & being so well prepared. A great result! The bad news, Florida get ready! Storm is building and will be BIG! Hurricane Dorian looks like it will be hitting Florida late Sunday night. Be prepared and please follow State and Federal instructions, it will be a very big Hurricane, perhaps one of the biggest!'

President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday morning: 'Puerto Rico is in great shape with Hurricane Dorian taking a largely different route than anticipated. Thank you to FEMA, first responders, and all, for working so hard & being so well prepared. A great result! The bad news, Florida get ready! Storm is building and will be BIG! Hurricane Dorian looks like it will be hitting Florida late Sunday night. Be prepared and please follow State and Federal instructions, it will be a very big Hurricane, perhaps one of the biggest!'

President Trump tweet

President Trump tweet

President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday morning: ‘Puerto Rico is in great shape with Hurricane Dorian taking a largely different route than anticipated. Thank you to FEMA, first responders, and all, for working so hard & being so well prepared. A great result! The bad news, Florida get ready! Storm is building and will be BIG! Hurricane Dorian looks like it will be hitting Florida late Sunday night. Be prepared and please follow State and Federal instructions, it will be a very big Hurricane, perhaps one of the biggest!’

On Wednesday Dorian was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane and made landfall in the Virgin Islands. The flooded city of Tortola in the Virgin Islands pictured above

On Wednesday Dorian was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane and made landfall in the Virgin Islands. The flooded city of Tortola in the Virgin Islands pictured above

On Wednesday Dorian was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane and made landfall in the Virgin Islands. The flooded city of Tortola in the Virgin Islands pictured above 

A washed up boat lies on the shore after Dorian slammed St. Thomas of the Virgin Islands on Wednesday

A washed up boat lies on the shore after Dorian slammed St. Thomas of the Virgin Islands on Wednesday

A washed up boat lies on the shore after Dorian slammed St. Thomas of the Virgin Islands on Wednesday

Dorian was expected to hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday but passed to the east of the territory, leaving it unscathed

Dorian was expected to hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday but passed to the east of the territory, leaving it unscathed

Dorian was expected to hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday but passed to the east of the territory, leaving it unscathed. Locals are seen waiting for the storm to arrive in San Juan

Safe: Puerto Rico was hit with just a bit of rain as Dorian approached its northeast region but didn't make landfall. A flooded road in Canovanas on the island pictured above

Safe: Puerto Rico was hit with just a bit of rain as Dorian approached its northeast region but didn't make landfall. A flooded road in Canovanas on the island pictured above

Safe: Puerto Rico was hit with just a bit of rain as Dorian approached its northeast region but didn’t make landfall. A flooded road in Canovanas on the island pictured above 

NHC also warned early Thursday that heavy rain from Dorian could cause ‘life-threatening flash floods’ in parts of the Bahamas and southeastern U.S. coast.  

Meteorologists say it could still be a Category 2 storm by the time it passes over the Orlando area, which is at the center of the current projected path, on Monday afternoon. 

The 400-mile cone of uncertainty indicates that it could be anywhere from coastal Georgia to the southern tip of Florida, Florida’s west coast or South Carolina coasts by that time. 

In Central Florida, residents are taking official advice and preparing for a Labor Day strike. 

Some grocery stores reported that their stock of bottle water and other supplies has already taken a hit, according to the Orlando Sentinel.   The U.S. Coast Guard has also warned all pleasure boats at the Port of Key West to seek safe harbor.

In this latest National Hurricane Center update the Bahamas and Florida east coast are predicted to be hit by the hurricane. Dorian will bring along with it heavy rains to the southeastern US later this week into next week

In this latest National Hurricane Center update the Bahamas and Florida east coast are predicted to be hit by the hurricane. Dorian will bring along with it heavy rains to the southeastern US later this week into next week

In this latest National Hurricane Center update the Bahamas and Florida east coast are predicted to be hit by the hurricane. Dorian will bring along with it heavy rains to the southeastern US later this week into next week 

This graphic shows the tropical-storm-force winds that whip at 39mph per minute that will whip through Florida, hitting early Saturday ahead of the hurricane's landfall

This graphic shows the tropical-storm-force winds that whip at 39mph per minute that will whip through Florida, hitting early Saturday ahead of the hurricane's landfall

This graphic shows the tropical-storm-force winds that whip at 39mph per minute that will whip through Florida, hitting early Saturday ahead of the hurricane’s landfall

Tropical Storm Dorian was upgraded to a hurricane on Wednesday as winds reached a peak of 75mph

Tropical Storm Dorian was upgraded to a hurricane on Wednesday as winds reached a peak of 75mph

Tropical Storm Dorian was upgraded to a hurricane on Wednesday as winds reached a peak of 75mph

The Florida Department of Emergency Management tweeted a lengthy checklist of supplies to have on hand on Wednesday. 

Weekend Breakdown of Hurricane Dorian 

Through Friday: The eye of Dorian is expected to hit the east and north of Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas

Saturday: Dorian will potentially impact the northwest Bahamas. Tropical winds will hit Florida

Sunday – Monday: Dorian with make landfall the Southeast U.S., most likely in Florida 

Source: Weather.com 

The University of Central Florida, where fall semester classes just started Monday, has urged students living on campus to prepare to move to safer off-campus locations if the storm continues on its projected track.  

In East Orange County, officials handed out shovels and bags on Wednesday for residents to make their own sandbags. By late afternoon nearly 7,000 bags had been filled, the Sentinel reported.  

On the coast, Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are working to secure multimillion-dollar equipment before the storm makes landfall.  

Cruise lines operating out of Port Canaveral are adjusting schedules to keep boat traffic to a minimum. 

Martin County schools canceled all school-related activities through Monday.

Governor Ron DeSantis spoke at the National Hurricane Center on Thursday to urge locals to prepare saying: ‘Be prepared for a lot of water. You should have seven days of food, medicine and water as a part of your plan.’

This map shows that Hurricane Dorian is predicted to hit Miami at 125mph in the early hours of Monday and will move inwards towards Melbourne and Fort Myers Tuesday morning at reduced 85mph speeds

This map shows that Hurricane Dorian is predicted to hit Miami at 125mph in the early hours of Monday and will move inwards towards Melbourne and Fort Myers Tuesday morning at reduced 85mph speeds

This map shows that Hurricane Dorian is predicted to hit Miami at 125mph in the early hours of Monday and will move inwards towards Melbourne and Fort Myers Tuesday morning at reduced 85mph speeds

This map shows the rain forecast with the hurricane, that'll bring up to three inches of rain to Florida through Sunday

This map shows the rain forecast with the hurricane, that'll bring up to three inches of rain to Florida through Sunday

This map shows the rain forecast with the hurricane, that’ll bring up to three inches of rain to Florida through Sunday

The Florida Department of Emergency Management tweeted a lengthy checklist of supplies to have on hand on Wednesday

The Florida Department of Emergency Management tweeted a lengthy checklist of supplies to have on hand on Wednesday

The Florida Department of Emergency Management tweeted a lengthy checklist of supplies to have on hand on Wednesday

Some meteorologists expressed concern that as Dorian moves into the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and gains momentum it could actually reach a Category 4 storm, echoing the last-minute intensification of Hurricane Andrew in August 1992 that escalated into a Category 5 status just prior to making landfall in South Florida. 

On Wednesday lightening was detected int he eye of the hurricane – a sign of rapid strengthening.  

Dorian left some damage in its wake as it carved its way across the Caribbean as a tropical storm. 

On Wednesday Dorian at 2pm EDT Dorian made landfall on Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands as a Category 1 hurricane with 75mph winds, causing power outages and minor flooding.

At that time Saint Thomas was in the developing northern eyewall of Dorian, according to WUnderground.  

President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration Wednesday night for the U.S. Virgin Islands, ordering federal assistance with disaster relief for the U.S. territory. He also offered a similar declaration for Puerto Rico, offering federal assistance for local authorities.

Power outages and flooding were reported across the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra after Dorian hit St Thomas as a Category 1 storm.

‘We’re happy because there are no damages to report,’ Culebra Mayor William Solís told The Associated Press, noting that only one community lost power.

Meanwhile, Dorian caused an island-wide blackout in St Thomas and St John in the US Virgin Islands, and scattered power outages in St Croix, government spokesman Richard Motta told AP. 

In addition, the storm downed trees and at least one electric post in St Thomas, he said, adding that there were no reports of major flooding.

‘We are grateful that it wasn’t a stronger storm,’ he said.

There were no immediate reports of damage in the British Virgin Islands, where Gov Augustus Jaspert said crews were already clearing roads and inspecting infrastructure by late Wednesday afternoon.

Dorian battered the island of St Thomas on Wednesday, causing widespread power outages and leveling trees

Dorian battered the island of St Thomas on Wednesday, causing widespread power outages and leveling trees

Dorian battered the island of St Thomas on Wednesday, causing widespread power outages and leveling trees

Local woman Kim Pemberton shared video showing Tortola in the Virgin Islands being barreled by Dorian as it hit Wednesday

Local woman Kim Pemberton shared video showing Tortola in the Virgin Islands being barreled by Dorian as it hit Wednesday

Heavy rain and winds are seen impacting the city

Heavy rain and winds are seen impacting the city

Local woman Kim Pemberton shared video showing Tortola in the Virgin Islands being barreled by Dorian as it hit Wednesday

Dorian appears to have largely spared Puerto Rico, passing over the top of the US territory that is still recovering from a powerful storm two years ago.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said the hurricane watch and tropical storm warning for the island had been lifted, and that ‘Dorian continues to move away from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.’

‘The threat has already passed,’ Puerto Rico’s new governor, Wanda Vazquez, told a news conference.

Vazquez announced that schools would reopen and people should return to work from Thursday. She said the storm had given the island a chance to evaluate its hurricane response.

‘These days have been a real exercise where we have been able to re-evaluate and make adjustments in all our responses to protect the people of Puerto Rico,’ she said.  

Now meteorologists say severe weather could batter the southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Friday. 

On Wednesday President Donald Trump was blasted for transferring disaster-relief funds to border control efforts. 

On Wednesday as Trump announced FEMA relief for Puerto Rico, he refueled his feud with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, calling her 'incompetent'

On Wednesday as Trump announced FEMA relief for Puerto Rico, he refueled his feud with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, calling her 'incompetent'

Cruz also had some sharp words for the president saying 'hope we do not see any insulting references to the people of Florida or self aggrandizement tweets'

Cruz also had some sharp words for the president saying 'hope we do not see any insulting references to the people of Florida or self aggrandizement tweets'

On Wednesday as Trump announced FEMA relief for Puerto Rico, he refueled his feud with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz saying FEMA and all others are ready, and will do a great job. When they do, let them know it, and give them a big Thank You – Not like last time. That includes from the incompetent Mayor of San Juan!’

The Trump administration announced in July in a notification to Congress that it will move $155 million from FEMA’s disaster-relief fund to pay for border enforcement efforts. 

On Wednesday Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried – Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat – berated Trump for moving the funds as Hurricane Dorian barrels towards Florida. 

‘The President must be out of his mind if he thinks it’s a good idea to shift funds out of @FEMA for immigrant detention at the border while a potential Category 3 Hurricane #Dorian bears down on the United States,’ she wrote. 

‘We don’t need those funds diverted to fuel a xenophobic agenda,’ she added. 

On Wednesday as Trump announced FEMA relief for Puerto Rico, he refueled his feud with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz saying  FEMA and all others are ready, and will do a great job. When they do, let them know it, and give them a big Thank You – Not like last time. That includes from the incompetent Mayor of San Juan!’

'The threat has already passed,' Puerto Rico's new governor, Wanda Vazquez (center), told a news conference in the evening

'The threat has already passed,' Puerto Rico's new governor, Wanda Vazquez (center), told a news conference in the evening

‘The threat has already passed,’ Puerto Rico’s new governor, Wanda Vazquez (center), told a news conference in the evening

The storm was expected to pass over or near Puerto Rico on Wednesday. People are seen gathered at the coast of Patillas

The storm was expected to pass over or near Puerto Rico on Wednesday. People are seen gathered at the coast of Patillas

The storm was expected to pass over or near Puerto Rico on Wednesday. People are seen gathered at the coast of Patillas

Residents of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, are seen boarding up their windows to protect against potentially disastrous winds

Residents of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, are seen boarding up their windows to protect against potentially disastrous winds

Residents of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, are seen boarding up their windows to protect against potentially disastrous winds

Florida’s most destructive hurricanes 

Hurricane Andrew: This powerful Category 5 Atlantic hurricane beat the Bahamas, Florida and Louisiana in August 1992

At the time it was the most destructive hurricane to ever batter Florida where it made landfall with wind speeds as high as 165mph, killing 65 people and causing $27.3billion in damage

Homestead Florida residents picking through the debris left in the wake of the deadly Hurricane Andrew on August 24, 1992

Homestead Florida residents picking through the debris left in the wake of the deadly Hurricane Andrew on August 24, 1992

Homestead Florida residents picking through the debris left in the wake of the deadly Hurricane Andrew on August 24, 1992

Hurricane Irma: Irma was the strongest observed hurricane in the Atlantic causing at least 134 deaths in September 2017

This Category 5 hurricane hit the Leeward Islands, the northeastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys 

Trees pictured bent in Hurricane Irma on Sept 10 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Trees pictured bent in Hurricane Irma on Sept 10 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Trees pictured bent in Hurricane Irma on Sept 10 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Hurricane Michael: This category 5 hurricane was the first to strike the contiguous United States since Andrew in 1992

The October 2018 storm killed 74 – including 59 in the U.S. and 15 in Central America 

It reached peak winds of 160mph before it made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida  

A damaged home in Mexico Beach, Florida pictured above in the wake of Hurricane Michael

A damaged home in Mexico Beach, Florida pictured above in the wake of Hurricane Michael

A damaged home in Mexico Beach, Florida pictured above in the wake of Hurricane Michael 

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