Dorian changes course, Florida, Georgia, Carolinas at risk

Hurricane Dorian strengthened to a Category 4 storm Friday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center, and is heading across the Atlantic toward the Bahamas and the Florida coast.

Forecasters warned, too, that the storm's slow movement could subject the state to a drawn-out pummeling from wind, storm surge and heavy rain.

The National Hurricane Center's advisory released at 8 a.m. Saturday EDT warned the possibility of "strong winds and life-threatening storm surge" is increasing along Georgia and South Carolina's coasts.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Saturday that "some strengthening is possible today" for Hurricane Dorian, already a Category 4 storm.

Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik was taking no chances, putting up storm shutters on his Florida home on Friday afternoon and worrying about the flooding Dorian could unleash on his barrier island town.

Dorian began on Friday over the Atlantic as a Category 2 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale.

Dorian isn't forecast to significantly impact New York City, with dry conditions and temperatures in the 70s and 80s expected this weekend. According to the NHC, Dorian could now bring strong winds and life-threatening storm surge along the Georgia and SC coasts as it moves north next week.

Dorian was about 375 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas and about 545 miles east of West Palm Beach, Fla., according to the hurricane center.

As the storm threatened to intensify to a Category 5, experts predicted that it could weaken slightly before hitting the Bahamas, while remaining a highly unsafe Category 4.

Both Grand Bahama and Abaco are hubs of the Bahamas tourist industry, which plays a vital part in the island chain's economy.

The faint hope of dodging Dorian's fury came Friday, even as the storm ratcheted up from a menacing Category 3 hurricane to an even more risky Category 4.

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"Do not be foolish and try to courageous out this hurricane", Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at a news conference.

"Slow is not our friend, the longer you keep this around the more rain we get", Graham said in a Facebook Live video. "The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life".

The storm "has strengthened to an extremely risky Category 4 hurricane" on a five-level scale, it said.

The hurricane's winds reached almost 210 kmh late Friday, earlier than expected, and are likely to continue to increase until landfall, making it potentially catastrophic.

On Florida's east coast, where Dorian's winds are expected to quickly gather speed on Monday, residents bought bottled water, plywood and other supplies as fast as they could be restocked on Friday.

Just before noon Saturday, Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency for SC. "We encourage all South Carolinians who may be impacted by Hurricane Dorian to be vigilant and prepare now - there is no reason for delay".

"There is hope", Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said.

Major cruise lines Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian have started rerouting ships. "We don't really know where it's going to turn precisely".

DeSantis said the timely message from those arrests is: "It's your responsibility to make sure you have a plan in place to protect those folks".

By Saturday morning, the hurricane was expected to make landfall in the US on Wednesday, if at all. Dorian is expected to be near or over the island chain on Sunday.

  • Douglas Reid