By Zach Fagenson
MIAMI (Reuters) – Hurricane Dorian is expected suck powerful fuel from the warm waters off the Florida coast, swelling into a dangerous Category 4 storm in the coming days before it slams into the state early next week, forecasts showed on Friday.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for northwestern Bahamas on Friday and said the risk of “devastating hurricane-force winds along the Florida east coast late this weekend and early next week continues to increase.”
The storm began Friday over the Atlantic at Category 2 but was already expected to reach Category 3 later in the day, with sustained winds of at least 111 mpg (178km/h).
The entire state of Florida is under a declaration of emergency and Governor Ron DeSantis activated 2,500 National Guard troops with another 1,500 on standby.
Forecasters predict the storm growing more ferocious as it slows its advance across the warm waters near the coast, striking land late on Monday or early Tuesday. Tropical storm winds could be felt in Florida as soon as Saturday evening.
No evacuations were ordered as of early Friday, but many are expected as the storm’s path become clearer before it makes landfall.
If, as expected, it reaches Category 4 by Sunday, its winds will blow at more than 130 mph. Its 12 mph (9 kph) march across the map could slow down to a 4 mph crawl. The slower it moves, the more time it has to draw fuel from the warm seas.
Recent weather models from the National Hurricane Center show it smacking into the center of the state. It was trending slightly south in the latest advisory issued at 5 a.m. Friday.
It could roll inland towards Orlando on Tuesday or early Wednesday, weakening as it moves away from the sea. Other NHC weather models show it tracking south toward Miami before it hits the peninsula, or heading north to the Georgia coast. “READ MORE…”