Powerful hurricane Dorian threatens Bahamas and Florida

A stunning infrared image of hurricane Dorian early Saturday morning. Dorian was located 755 km east of the Florida coast at 5:00 am. The hurricane was approaching the northwest Bahamas, which can be seen on the left edge of the photo. Dorian is showing excellent symmetry with a well defined eye. Hurricane force winds extend up to 45km from the center.

Early Saturday morning, powerful category 4 hurricane Dorian was located 755 km east of West Palm Beach, Florida. The storm was in a very favorable environment to maintain the current strength or perhaps even grow slightly. Winds were measured at 220km/h (140 mph) with higher gusts. Dorian was moving west northwest at 20km/h.

Developments over the last 24 hours have included a hurricane warning for the northwest Bahamas, as well as mandatory evacuations of the barrier islands of Brevard County, Florida. Some coastal communities in Florida have also issued voluntary evacuations for those who wish to leave early. There has been a run on water and gas in south Florida, and those items are in short supply. Portions of the Florida coast may see a hurricane watch issued some time Saturday.

As far as the future of Dorian goes, the path is not so clear. The storm is forecast to slow to a crawl as it approaches the Bahamas, thus prolonging the devastating impacts for that region. Dorian may take the entire weekend to clear the Bahamas before approaching the Florida coast late Labour Day Monday or Tuesday. A strong ridge of high pressure that has been forcing Dorian west, may begin to erode allowing the storm to turn towards the north. Some computer models now have the hurricane remaining off the Florida coast and moving north into South Carolina before impacting the Outer Banks of North Carolina. NOAA Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to fly into Dorian several times Saturday, relaying vital information back to the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables, Florida. This will help forecasters as they try to determine the future path of Dorian.

Dorian remains a very dangerous storm, posing several widespread threats from The Bahamas to Florida and north towards Virginia.

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