Florida Governor Declares State Of Emergency As Hurricane Dorian Gains Force

Florida Governor Declares State Of Emergency As Hurricane Dorian Gains Force

11:33pm Aug 28, 2019
Dorian's probable path
Dorian's probable path
NOAA/NWS
  • Dorian's probable path

    Dorian's probable path

    NOAA/NWS

  • As Hurricane Dorian neared Puerto Rico, customers did last-minute shopping at a supermarket in Patillas. Dorian is expected to strengthen into an even more dangerous storm later this week.

    As Hurricane Dorian neared Puerto Rico, customers did last-minute shopping at a supermarket in Patillas. Dorian is expected to strengthen into an even more dangerous storm later this week.

    Xavier Garcia / Bloomberg via Getty Images

  • Estimated time that tropical storm-force winds will arrive.

    Estimated time that tropical storm-force winds will arrive.

    NOAA/NWS

Updated at 11:33 p.m. ET

Hurricane Dorian is gaining strength as it nears the U.S. mainland Wednesday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 85 mph (140 km/h) with higher gusts. Dorian is forecast to strengthen into a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days, the NHC's 11 p.m. ET report said.

Dorian's sustained winds topped 80 mph hitting Puerto Rico and St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands before heading northwest. Forecasters are now warning that the storm will strengthen into a dangerous Category 3 hurricane.

"Heavy rains are expected to occur over portions of the Bahamas, Florida, and elsewhere in the southeastern United States later this week and into early next week," forecasters said.

"All indications are that by this Labor Day weekend, a powerful hurricane will be near or over the Florida peninsula," the National Hurricane Center said at 5 p.m. ET.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for 26 counties in the path of the hurricane.

The eye of Hurricane Dorian was located about 90 miles northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico, as of Wednesday night.

"The Hurricane Warning for Vieques, Culebra, and the U.S. Virgin Islands has been discontinued," the National Hurricane Center report said earlier. "The Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning for Puerto Rico have been discontinued."

Dorian caused only limited damage in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"We're happy because there are no damages to report," Culebra Mayor William Solís told The Associated Press. He said only one community on his island lost power.

Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane (Category 3 and above) as it moves north of the Bahamas. Current predictions show Dorian's center hitting Florida's coast late Sunday/early Monday.

The hurricane center has said it's too early to give an exact location where the eye will come ashore, and everyone in the affected area should make emergency preparations.

The NHC said the northern Bahamas and coastal sections of the southeast United States could see four to eight inches of rain, with 10 inches possible in isolated areas. "This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods," it said.

NHC Director Ken Graham cautioned that anyone on the southeastern U.S. coast from Florida up through Georgia and South Carolina should watch for potential hazards.

Earlier, President Trump had declared an emergency in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, ordering the Federal Emergency Management Agency late Tuesday to provide "equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency."

Vázquez Garced thanked Trump for approving the declaration, saying it would "allow federal aid to arrive more quickly" after the storm passes.

Trump approved an emergency declaration for the Virgin Islands on Wednesday.

In a statement about its preparations, FEMA said that its "stock on the island compared to 2017 levels includes three times as many generators, nine times as many meals, five times as many liters of water and 16 times as many blue tarps."

Meanwhile, the fifth named storm of the 2019 Atlantic season formed late Tuesday, as Tropical Storm Erin's winds reached 40 mph. The storm, which was several hundred miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., was downgraded to a tropical depression on Wednesday. Erin is expected to remain on a north-northeastern track, likely arriving at Canada's coast late this week.

NPR's Windsor Johnston contributed to this report.

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