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Dorian is Now a Hurricane, Could Reach Florida as a Category 3 Storm

Tropical Storm Dorian became the season’s second hurricane Wednesday afternoon, according to the 2 pm update from the National Hurricane Center.

Multiple reports of hurricane-force winds were reported near St. Thomas, and maximum sustained winds were at 75 mph. High winds, heavy rains, and rough seas will occur in and around the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico through Thursday morning.

Hurricane Dorian is expected to intensify into a major hurricane as it moves into a highly favorable environment over the open waters of the western Atlantic. The storm is forecast to pass east of the Bahamas and approach Florida’s Atlantic Coast late Sunday or Monday. Tropical storm force winds (39 mph or greater) could arrive along the coast as early as Saturday afternoon. 

The center of the storm reformed farther to the north on Tuesday, which allowed it to avoid significant interaction with any large land areas. As a result, Dorian maintained its strength and is now poised to strengthen over the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday.

A strong ridge of high pressure is expected to build near the Mid Atlantic coast over the weekend, causing Dorian to turn toward more toward west in the general direction of Florida. The vast majority of the computer models forecast this scenario, but a few of the models forecast a weak trough over the Ohio Valley to disrupt the steering ridge. If this were to happen, Dorian could slow down on its approach to Florida and turn more toward the Carolinas.

Very little wind shear, warm waters, and greater moisture will surround Dorian as it approaches the Bahamas and Florida this weekend. These factors all suggest Dorian will become a hurricane on its approach. The latest National Hurricane Center Forecast makes the storm a category 2 hurricane just offshore from Florida on Sunday evening. However, in its technical discussion, the Hurricane Center said it may have to adjust the intensity forecast upward in future forecasts as several of the models are projecting a stronger hurricane.

Forecasters say that residents and vacationers should continue to monitor the progress of Dorian in the coming days and ensure they have hurricane plan in place in case they need to act upon it.

Tropical Storm Erin has also formed in the Atlantic, about midway between South Carolina and Bermuda. It is forecast to move northeastward, away from the Palmetto State.

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