Hurricane Dorian could be Category 4, hit Florida on Labor Day weekend

Dorian was expected to become a major hurricane on August 30, before making its way to Florida on Labor Day weekend. A hurricane watch was issued for the Bahamas.

Dorian was expected to become a major hurricane on August 30, before making its way to Florida on Labor Day weekend. A hurricane watch was issued for the Bahamas.

Friday’s forecast shows Hurricane Dorian on the verge of becoming a Category 3 hurricane, and a potential slowdown in its track could possibly push back a Labor Day Florida landfall.

But how strong will it be and where will it land?

Here’s what we know so far:

Dorian is on the verge of becoming a Category 3 hurricane Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane center’s 8 a.m. advisory shows the storm’s maximum sustained wind has increased from nearly 105 mph to 110 mph in just a few hours. Once Dorian’s maximum sustained winds reach 111 mph, the storm will be reclassified as a Category 3 hurricane, which has winds from 111 mph to 129 mph.

Dorian is heading northwest and is expected to officially become a Category 3 hurricane sometime later Friday.

The storm is then expected to continue strengthening into a Category 4 hurricane by 2 a.m. Sunday, according to the forecast.

Forecasters say Dorian will “likely slow down considerably” as it approaches Florida, which will place some areas of the state at a higher risk for “prolonged” strong winds, dangerous storm surge and heavy rainfall.

Where and when will Dorian land?

The track slightly changed Friday morning and is now pegging Dorian to make landfall somewhere in Florida’s east coast early next week as a Category 4 hurricane. Friday’s forecast shows the storm could arrive Monday or Tuesday.

However, the weather service said the time of landfall is still unclear and that the forecast may change. Florida remains in the storm’s “cone of uncertainty,” the weather service said, and can expect to feel Dorian’s tropical storm and hurricane winds as early as Sunday.

On Thursday, forecasters also nudged the center-line of the track another 30 miles south near Vero Beach, increasing the risk for South Florida. However, they say it’s still too soon to tell where the storm will make landfall and what type of effect it will have.

Once it makes landfall, Friday’s track shows it moving northward into Central Florida, where it’s expected to decrease into a Category 1 hurricane.

Forecasters say people should not pay attention to the track so much and focus on preparing for the hurricane. They also say regardless of Dorian’s track, heavy rains will fall over portions of the Bahamas, Florida and elsewhere into the southeastern United States this weekend and into the middle of next week.

The northwestern Bahamas and coastal sections of the Southeast United States, including Florida, can expect 6 to 12 inches of rain, with isolated experiences potentially seeing up to 15 inches of rain. The central Bahamas may see one to two inches of rain, with isolated areas seeing up to 4 inches. Life threatening flash floods, surf and rip current conditions are possible.

Where is Dorian now?

Dorian is about 255 miles east-northeast of the southeastern Bahamas and about 505 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas, according to Friday’s advisory.

Dorian is expected to move near or over the Bahamas through the weekend. The track shows it moving east of the southeastern and Central Bahamas Friday and moving near or over portions of the northwestern Bahamas by Sunday.

The northwestern Bahamas are under a hurricane watch, as of late Thursday afternoon.

Forecasters warn a dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding in areas of onshore winds in the northwestern Bahamas. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

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Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM

Alex Harris covers climate change for the Miami Herald, including how South Florida communities are adapting to the warming world. She attended the University of Florida.

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