(ABC NEWS) — Hurricane Dorian, now a high-end Category 5 with 150 mph winds, is picking up strength Saturday and also changing direction — with the current forecast showing a possible landfall in the Carolinas.
Dorian is now expected to move up the Southeast coast, bringing dangerous storm surge and powerful winds to the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina during the middle of next week. But Floridians should still be on alert for impacts.
Dorian might make landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, as a Category 2 hurricane.
“Given the strength and unpredictability of the storm, we must prepare for every possible scenario,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Saturday. “We encourage all South Carolinians who may be impacted by Hurricane Dorian to be vigilant and prepare now — there is no reason for delay.”
“The coastline has expanded so we want to make sure that those residents in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina are definitely starting to make their preparatory actions,” Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery at FEMA, told “Good Morning America” on Saturday.
Federal teams are already in Georgia, Byard said.
“We’ll start putting responses, assets and teams in South Carolina and North Carolina,” he added.
Some models show Dorian just brushing the Southeast coast with storm surge and gusty winds and then moving out to sea, without making landfall. Forecasts may still change as Dorian creeps closer to the U.S. over the next several days.
Earlier projections had Dorian making landfall in Florida on Tuesday as a monstrous Category 4 storm.
Despite the new track, Floridians should still expect to see dangerous storm surge, hurricane-force winds and up to 10 inches of rain — and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is urging residents to “remain vigilant and prepared.”
“We will hope that the trend continues, but there is still significant chance of a strike on the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a news conference Saturday morning. “Even if it doesn’t directly strike Florida, this is a big, powerful storm — you’re still looking at really significant storm surge” and “major flooding.”
Some evacuation orders in Florida remain in effect. Those in low-lying areas and mobile homes in Brevard County are under mandatory evacuation orders beginning Monday morning.
“This is not your government saying we’re out of harm’s way,” Brevard County Public Safety Director Matt Wallace said. “This is still a killer storm.”
“A bump in one direction or the other can have really significant ramifications in terms of impact,” the governor warned. “Everyone should continue to monitor the storm and follow the direction from your local officials.”
“We’re gonna continue to monitor the situation here in the state with fuel and traffic flows and take action as is necessary,” DeSantis said.
Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez on Saturday urged residents in South Florida to “prepare, wait and see.”
Dorian is “expected to be a powerful hurricane north of us” but “way too early to let our guard down,” he said.
As residents in the Southeast scramble to prepare, those in the Bahamas are bracing for a direct hit.
Dorian could strike the Bahamas as a high-end Category 4 Sunday night into Monday morning, bringing a “prolonged period of life-threatening storm surge and devastating hurricane-force the National Hurricane Center warned Saturday.
“Let me be extremely clear: Those who refuse to evacuate place themselves in great danger from this very powerful and potentially life-threatening hurricane,” Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Friday. “Do not be foolish and try to brave out this hurricane.”
Victoria Archer told ABC News she and her husband are riding the storm from home in the Bahamas.
Archer said she never worries and that she stocked up on supplies, water and food two weeks ago.
“I’m always prepared,” she said. “I got everything I need.”