Hurricane Dorian strengthened into a Category 3 storm as it trudged across the Atlantic, slowing its erratic path Northwest toward the Bahamas.
The slowing storm means increasing risk of life-threatening storm surge and winds along portions of Florida’s east coast, though the National Hurricane Center cautioned that it’s too soon to determine where the biggest storm surges and highest winds will occur.
The storm could hit Florida as a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds, and produce a 10-foot storm surge, with 6 to 10 inches of rain in some areas, said NHC director Ken Graham, speaking at 9 a.m. on an NHC podcast tracking the storm.
Florida could see tropical storm-force winds — which currently extend 90 miles — by Sunday night, spreading out through interior of Florida throughout Monday.
The storm was moving about 12 mph this morning and is expected to further slow its trajectory tonight and continue through the weekend, according to NHC.
Cirrus clouds are taking energy from the ocean and warm water and fanning the storm — “so to speak, breathing, basically” — and causing it to further intensify, said Graham.
The slowing path is problematic because it allows more time for heavy rains to soak soil on the coast and allow more opportunities for hurricane-force winds to rip out trees and power lines, Graham said.
On its current track, Dorian should dodge the southeastern and central Bahamas over the weekend and brush the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday. Wind conditions have increased to 110 mph with higher gusts, and are also expected to strengthen, making Dorian a major hurricane by the end of the day.
“There is an increasing likelihood of a prolonged period of hazardous weather conditions that could last for a couple of days in parts of Florida early next week,” according to NHC.
BoatUS has unveiled a hurricane-tracking app to help boaters follow the storm’s progress. The insurance provider also highlighted resources and guides it provides to help boaters get through major catastrophes with as little damage as possible.