Hurricane Dorian strengthened and shifted slightly early Saturday, setting it on course to potentially miss a direct hit with Florida and make landfall in the Carolinas.
But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is warning residents to remain vigilant, cautioning that the Category 4 storm could still change course again and that even if does not make landfall in the state it could bring dangerous storm surges and flooding.
“As you’re looking at these forecasts, a bump in one direction or the other could have really significant ramifications in terms of impact,” DeSantis said at a Saturday morning news conference. “If it bumps just a little west, then you’re looking at really, really significant impacts.”
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Broward County has issued a mandatory evacuation order starting Sunday, DeSantis said, while Martin County issued a partial evacuation. A number of areas, including Glades, St. Lucie and Osceola counties, have issued voluntary evacuation orders, according to DeSantis.
The National Hurricane Center announced Saturday morning that “there’s been a notable change overnight to the forecast of Dorian after Tuesday,” but it stressed that the shift does not rule out the possibility of the storm making landfall on the Florida coast.
Dorian became a potentially devastating Category 4 storm Friday evening as it continued to churn in the Atlantic Ocean on its course to the southeastern United States early next week.
“It’s important to stress that this doesn’t paint Florida as out of the woods yet,” said Kathryn Prociv, a meteorologist for NBC News.
“Florida is still very much in the red zone,” she added.
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Dorian will continue westward through the weekend but is then forecast to turn northward as it approaches the east coast of Florida early next week, the center said. It will bring “risks of life-threatening storm surge, devastating hurricane-force winds, heavy rainfall and flooding along its path.”
As of the NHC’s 8 a.m. ET advisory Saturday, the storm was located 280 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas and 445 miles east of West Palm Beach.
The latest forecast track has narrowed the “Cone of Concern,” as Miami-Dade County no longer faces the threat of the center of the hurricane. Parts of Broward County, including Fort Lauderdale, remain in the possible path of a Dorian landfall, according to the NHC.