James Wolfe, 72, left, and Elaine Wolfe, 65, install shutters on their home in Vero Beach, Fla, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian could hit the Florida coast over the weekend as a major hurricane. (AP Photo/Ellis Rua)
James Wolfe, 72, left, and Elaine Wolfe, 65, install shutters on their home in Vero Beach, Fla, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian could hit the Florida coast over the weekend as a major hurricane. (AP Photo/Ellis Rua)

Hurricane Dorian gains strength as Florida braces for hit

By By Zach Fagenson And And Rich McKay Time of article published Aug 30, 2019

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MIAMI - Hurricane Dorian gained strength

as it crept closer to Florida's coast on Friday, raising the

risk that parts of the U.S. state will be hit by strong winds, a

storm surge and heavy rain for a prolonged period after it makes

landfall early next week.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a

hurricane watch for northwestern Bahamas, and said Dorian was

likely to remain an extremely dangerous hurricane as it

approaches Florida through the weekend.

"The biggest concern will be Dorian's slow motion when it is

near Florida, placing some areas of the state at an increasing

risk of a prolonged, drawn-out event of strong winds, dangerous

storm surge, and heavy rainfall," the center said.

The storm began Friday over the Atlantic as a Category 2 but

was already expected to be classified a Category 3 later in the

day, with sustained winds of at least 110 miles per hour (175 km

per hour).

The entire state of Florida was under a declaration of

emergency, and Governor Ron DeSantis has activated 2,500

National Guard troops, with another 1,500 on standby.

Forecasters predicted the storm would grow more ferocious as

it gained fuel from the warm waters off Florida, slamming into

the state late on Monday or early Tuesday. Tropical storm winds

could be felt in Florida as soon as Saturday.

No evacuations were ordered as of early Friday, but many

were expected as the storm's path becomes clearer before it

makes landfall.

If, as expected, the storm reaches Category 4 over the

weekend, its winds will blow at more than 130 mph (210 kph).

There was concern that it could slow from its current 12-mph

(9-kph) march across the map, giving it more time to draw fuel

from warm seas.

Recent NHC weather models show Dorian smacking into the

center of Florida. It was trending northwest in the latest

advisory issued at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) on Friday.

The storm could roll inland toward 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

hitting the peninsula, or heading north to the Georgia coast.

Along with the dangerous winds, the storm was expected to

drop 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) of rain on the coastal United

States, with some areas getting as much as 15 inches (38 cm).

"This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods," NHC

forecasters said.

President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled a planned

weekend trip to Poland, sending Vice President Mike Pence in his

place, so he can make sure resources are properly directed for

the storm.

"Now it's looking like it could be an absolute monster,"

Trump said in a video posted on Twitter, adding that food and

water were being shipped to Florida.

Governor DeSantis said Floridians need to take the storm

seriously.

"Hurricane #Dorian is moving slowly & gaining strength,"

DeSantis wrote on Twitter. "Now is the time to get prepared &

have a plan."

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in

12 counties to assist with storm readiness, response and

recovery.

'NOT LOOKING GOOD'

Angela Johnson, a 39-year-old bar manager in South Florida,

said on Thursday, "We're worried. This is not looking good for

us."

"We woke up a lot more scared than we went to bed last

night, and the news is not getting any better," said Johnson,

who manages Coconuts On The Beach, a bar and restaurant on the

surfing beach in the town of Cocoa Beach.

Officials were making piles of sand available for Cocoa

Beach residents to fill sandbags starting on Friday.

Dorian could churn across dozens of launchpads owned by the

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Air

Force and companies such as Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos'

Blue Origin. 

Reuters

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