Update, Sunday, 9:56 a.m. EDT: Dorian was upgraded to a category 5 hurricane on Sunday, becoming the strongest storm on the planet, according to CNN and the National Hurricane Center.
As it moves toward the U.S. mainland, Dorian continues to intensify, with maximum winds now at 175 mph.
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While it’s still difficult to predict exactly where Hurricane Dorian will approach the coastal mainland of the United States, experts said early Saturday that the storm’s forecast path had shifted east, meaning it could travel north of Florida, either making landfall or remaining about 50 miles off the coast throughout the week.
In response, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency, telling residents to “prepare for every possible scenario.”
At the same time, Florida officials warned residents not to let their guards down, as the unpredictable storm could shift its trajectory again before it’s expected to reach the coast on Monday and into Tuesday.
Dorian is a powerful and dangerous storm, Florida Power & Light spokesman Bryan Garner said, according to CNN.
“Although the path of #Dorian has shifted, the entire East Coast is still vulnerable to significant impacts. Residents in East Coast counties should continue to monitor local reports and stay vigilant,” FL Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted.
According to an update by the National Hurricane Center, as of 2 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Dorian was about 385 miles east of West Palm Beach and moving west at about 8 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 150 mph, which extend out from the hurricane’s center by 30 miles. Strong winds stretch out even further than that. Dorian was declared a category 4 hurricane on Friday. You can track its path here.
The storm likely will slam into the northwestern Bahamas on Saturday night or Sunday morning, where it is expected to slow down and stall for as long as 36 hours, a situation that meteorologists described as horrendous. Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis urged residents to evacuate. “Do not be foolish and try to brave out this hurricane,” Minnis told WPLG. “The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life.”
The northwestern Bahamas are expected to get at least 15 inches of rain, according to forecasts.
This is the third consecutive year that major storms have hit the Bahamas, National Emergency Management Agency Director Stephen Russell pointed out to WPLG.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that Dorian could be “one of the biggest and strongest (and really wide)” hurricanes in decades. Really, really wide, from the standpoint of dimensions, that is.
Trump on Thursday canceled an official trip to Poland planned for this weekend, citing his need to keep track of Dorian. He left the White House on Friday, leading reporters to believe he was heading to Camp David to monitor the hurricane. However, on Saturday, Trump flew by helicopter from Camp David to his golf course in Sterling, VA, where he reportedly planned to play golf on Saturday afternoon.
According to NBC’s Kyle Griffin, this is Trump’s 294th day at a Trump property as president.