Waiting for Dorian

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The Abaco Islands took a direct hit with devastating results. Photo from ABC news.

The Abaco Islands took a direct hit with devastating results. Photo from ABC news.

Gary Ballough is a professional powerboat racer who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., and he’s been watching the track of Hurricane Dorian closely as he and other residents on the Sunshine State’s east coast sit and wait for the storm to move.

“I’ve got two boats sitting alongside my house,” he told Trade Only Today this morning. “One I make a living with and the other I make a living with. The storm hasn’t moved, so even though all their models say the upper air mass is going to pull it straight up, until it goes north, none of us is doing anything.”

He races one boat and uses the other to give speedboat rides. “I’ve got every ratchet strap that Home Depot had on everything in the yard,” says Ballough.

Most marinas along the east coast of Florida have battened down for the impact of Dorian, with owners either removing boats or securing them against potential high winds and storm surges.

As of 7 a.m. this morning, Ballough said he opened his door and there were 10- to 15-mph winds. “But we’re starting to feel bands and in 20 minutes, I could open the door and the wind will blow whatever I’m holding out of my hand.”

In the calm before the storm, the beach parking lots have been closed, so all those wanting to take advantage of the surf are parked on A1A. “It’s like when I was in high school,” Ballough said. “There are 100 cars up there because everyone is out there surfing.”

Ballough is 20 miles from West Palm and if Dorian, which has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm, comes directly west, it would make a direct hit on West Palm. According to the Orlando Sentinel, as of 5 a.m. today, the storm was 35 miles northeast of Freeport in the Grand Bahamas, which is 105 miles east of West Palm. The storm remains stationary, as it did for most of Monday, pounding the Bahamas with high winds and rain. When it made landfall, Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane with sustained 185-mph winds and gusts up to 220 mph.

After it parked over the northwest Bahamas, Dorian caused flooding in the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama with walls of water reaching the second stories of buildings and trapping people in attics of their homes. The Grand Bahama airport was under 6 inches of water. At least five people died and 21 were injured according to local officials. The Wall Street Journal said that 13,000 homes were destroyed throughout the Bahamas.

In the wake of the damage caused by Dorian, Nautical Ventures Group has set up a Bahamas Relief Effort including a GoFundMe campaign. The group will also be a dropoff point where South Florida residents can donate canned goods and supplies. The fund will emergency supplies including food, water and medicine, plus longer-term recovery assistance. Additionally, several Nautical Ventures clients who own large private yachts have offered to ferry supplies to the islands.

Other industry GoFundMe campaigns include H 4 Hope Town and Denison Yachting’s Hurricane Dorian Fundraiser for Bahamas Relief.

Social media was filled with reports of South Florida boaters readying their boats to bring supplies to the Bahamas.

The official forecast does not show Dorian making landfall on the east coast of Florida, but the National Hurricane Center warns, “A relatively small deviation to the left of the current projected track could bring the core of the hurricane near or over the coastline.”

The projected path shows Dorian remaining at Category 3 storm and has it passing Port St. Lucie, Fla., this afternoon with 120-mph winds and gusts to 150 mph. It would pass Brevard County overnight and be off St. Augustine by 2 p.m. tomorrow. Hurricane warnings run from Jupiter Inlet to Ponte Vedra Beach with a hurricane watch from Jupiter Inlet to Deerfield Beach and north from Ponte Vedra Beach to South Sanatee River, South Carolina.

A tropical storm warning is in place for north of Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet and from north of Ponte Vedra Beach to Altamaha Sound, Georgia. Tropical storm watches are in place for north of Golden Beach to Deerfield Beach and Lake Okeechobee.

Sustained winds along Florida’s Treasure Coast and into Brevard County today are expected to be around 40 mph with gusts as high as 75 mph being possible. Storm surges could reach as high as 7 feet in Florida and Georgia, with rainfall averaging about 3 to 6 inches with localized accumulation reaching as high as 9 inches.

The NHC said Dorian is expected to maintain its intensity for 36 hours and the hope is that increasing vertical wind shear will cause gradual weakening, but the storm is still expected to be a major hurricane for the next few days.

As for Ballough, he said, “I’m going to keep staring out my windows at my boats. Until I see it actually go north, I’m going to sit here with my fingers crossed.”

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