ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Hurricane Dorian is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane during the next couple of days.
As of 11 p.m. Thursday, Dorian is a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds up to 105 mph. It is expected to strengthen as it tracks to the northwest.
Dorian may reach category 4 strength as it nears Florida's east coast.
As of right now, there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.
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The models are in good agreement for the next couple of days — after that the models diverge.
Some have it making landfall in South Florida, some as far north as Melbourne, and some show it skirting the coast and moving north. The timing of it reaching Florida’s east coast also varies, from Sunday evening to Tuesday.
Remember that the size of the storm is small, so where it goes will affect the local forecast dramatically. If it does make landfall in Florida, it will likely be a big rainfall producer.
The models do agree on slowing it down by that point, so flooding rains will be the biggest hazard after a landfall. But also the location of the storm will affect rain totals, too.
There will be much less rain on the west and southwest side of the center. Very heavy rain will fall on the east to northeast side. But definitely the speed of the storm will affect totals the most.
For Tampa Bay, storm surge is not expected. Heavy rain is likely, though.
Tropical storm force winds are possible. Polk County may see stronger winds.
Florida’s east coast will experience much stronger effects with hurricane force winds and storm surge. The strongest effects will be where the center makes landfall (if it does) and just to the north. Flooding rains are very likely.
None of these effects will start until Sunday p.m. at the earliest.
The forecast will likely change with the uncertainties in the models, the small size of the storm, and the fact that landfall is still at least 3.5 days away, if not longer.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued a state of emergency for every county in Florida.
"All Floridians need to really monitor Hurricane Dorian and make necessary preparations," the governor said Thursday. "This is a track that has a significant amount of uncertainy. The key is to have a plan and make those preparations right now."
The counties listed in Thursday's emergency declaration were Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Volusia, and Union.
On Friday, DeSantis expanded the declaration to the entire state.
A state of emergency also protects people from price gouging, like at the gas pumps. Here's what you need to know and how to file a complaint with Attorney General Ashley Moody if you get ripped off.
ABOUT 295 MI...470 KM ENE OF THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS
ABOUT 580 MI...930 KM E OF THE NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...105 MPH...165 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NW OR 325 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...977 MB...28.85 INCHES
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.
Be sure to stay tuned for the tropical update at :49 past the hour.