Hurricane Dorian is continuing its path northwest and is expected to make landfall on the U.S. mainland, potentially as a Category 3 hurricane, as early as Saturday night.
The storm is gathering strength after moving into open water and heading north of the Bahamas, and has a vast projected landfall scope from the Florida Keys to southeast Georgia, according to the National Hurricane Center.
No watches or warnings are currently in effect for land areas for Dorian, but National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft is en route to sample the storm, and a tropical cyclone update will be issued if significant changes are found, the National Hurricane Center tweeted this morning.
The storm left Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from 2017’s Hurricane Maria, largely unscathed, but left damage in the Virgin Islands, territories that are still recovering from Hurricane Irma in 2017, according to CNN.
Traveling over water will help strengthen the storm to a Category 2 hurricane, and the warm waters of the Bahamas will likely make the storm larger, according to WESH, Orlando’s NBC affiliate.
At that time, Dorian's sustained winds could go from its current 85 mph to 115 mph — making it a Category 3 storm — as it approaches the Florida coast this Labor Day weekend.
Because of the storm’s uncertain track, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency order for more than 25 counties along the coast.
“Every Florida resident should have seven days of supplies, including food, water and medicine, and should have a plan in case of disaster,” DeSantis said in a statement.
Florida’s Division of Emergency Management is urging all resident’s along Florida’s east coast to be prepared.
“As updates come out, it’s important that Floridians continue to pay attention to media and local officials as the track of this storm has been changing and can continue to change rapidly,” said Florida emergency management director Jared Moskowitz.