TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Dorian continues to strengthen as it moves out over open waters Thursday morning.
The Category 1 hurricane tore through the British and US Virgin Islands, and scraped Puerto Rico, doing limited damage. There were scattered power outages in St. Croix and islandwide blackouts in St. Thomas and St. John. No major flooding was reported.
Dorian was forecast to strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane as it heads toward Florida and the Bahamas, but was downgraded to a Category 2 Thursday evening.
The storm is expected to hit the Sunshine State by Sunday afternoon.
“The forecast track takes it toward Florida’s east coast, but this track is slower,” said Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Leigh Spann. “It’s still offshore on Monday morning. Changes will continue as computer models are still split long-range.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday for 26 counties in the storm’s path.
“Today, I am declaring a State of Emergency to ensure Florida is fully prepared for Hurricane Dorian. It’s important for Floridians on the East Coast to monitor this storm closely.
Every Florida resident should have seven days of supplies, including food, water and medicine, and should have a plan in case of disaster. I will continue to monitor Hurricane Dorian closely with emergency management officials. The state stands ready to support all counties along the coast as they prepare.”– Governor DeSantis
The NHC said the central and northwestern Bahamas and coastal sections of the southeast United States could see four to eight inches of rain, with 12 inches possible in isolated areas.
“This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods,” the advisory said.
As of 5 a.m., Dorian is located about 150 miles north-northwest of San Juan Puerto Rico and about 425 miles east-southeast of the southeastern Bahamas.
The storm is traveling northwest at 13 miles per hour, packing maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour.
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect at this time.
“Interests in the northwestern and central Bahamas should monitor the progress of Dorian,” the NHC advisory states.