State of Emergency Declared in Florida Ahead of Dorian

1010 WINS Newsroom
August 28, 2019 - 6:12 pm

(1010 WINS/AP) -- The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian is expected to become a dangerous hurricane as it enters warm Atlantic waters nearing the U.S. Southeast -- and it's expected to hit Florida as a major hurricane over Labor Day weekend.

As of five a.m. on Thursday, the risk of dangerous storm surge and hurricane-force winds later this week and into this weekend has increased.

Heavy rains are expected in the Bahamas, Florida and other parts of the southeast region of the United States.

A hurricane center advisory at 5 p.m. EDT said Dorian, which gained hurricane strength earlier Wednesday, is gradually moving away from the northeastern Caribbean Seat into the Atlantic basin. It's now centered about 45 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of St. Thomas and has strengthened somewhat in recent hours.

Top sustained winds are now being clocked at 80 mph (130 kph) and Dorian is churning to the northwest at 14 mph (22 kph).

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Photo credit Citizens stock up on gasoline a few hours before the passing of tropical storm Dorian, in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Puerto Rico is facing its first major test of emergency preparedness since the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria as Tropical Storm Dorian nears the U.S. territory at near-hurricane force. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency and is urging residents to take precautions as Hurricane Dorian strengthens in the Caribbean on a path expected to take it to the U.S. Mainland.

The National Hurricane Center says the Category 1 storm could grow into a dangerous Category 3 hurricane as it swirls toward Florida.

While the storm's track remains uncertain, the governor says people should stock up on at least a week's worth of food and water, but be prepared to evacuate when advised.

The governor's declaration allows resources to be more efficiently and urgently marshaled ahead of the hurricane's arrival.

People in Florida are starting to get ready for a possible Labor Day strike from Hurricane Dorian, which forecasters say could grow into a Category 3 storm.

DeSantis tweeted Wednesday that: "All Floridians on the East Coast should have 7 days of supplies, prepare their homes & follow the track closely."

County governments along Florida's east-central coast have begun distributing sandbags, while many residents are rushing to warehouse retailers to load up on water, canned food and emergency supplies.

The prospect of Dorian already is dinging the region's tourism. The head of Volusa County's Lodging and Hospitality Association says hotel reservations there went from three-quarter capacity down to half through cancellations.

Dorian hit the U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday just as it reached hurricane force, and forecasters say it could grow to Category 3 status before a likely collision with the U.S. mainland as early as the weekend.

The British Virgin Islands and the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra were also in Dorian's path. Officials in the U.S. territory were worried the storm could bring landslides, widespread flooding and power outages in what could be the first major test of emergency preparedness since the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Dorian prompted President Donald Trump to declare a state of emergency Tuesday night and order federal assistance for local authorities.

Dorian passed over Puerto Rico and Trump tweeted that Puerto Rico was in "great shape" with Dorian taking a different route.

He then urged Florida resients to follow State and Federal instructions, warning that this might be one of the biggest hurricanes the state will face.

Disney plans to open its long-anticipated Star Wars Land on Thursday and that had been expected to drive attendance over the three-day weekend. There's no word yet on any possible closure.