Hurricane Dorian is forecast to become a Category 4 storm, with the potential to strengthen to a Category 5 hurricane, by the time it makes landfall in Florida Labor Day weekend, according to new models. The projections come after Dorian was officially upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane on Friday afternoon, with residents along Florida's east coast being advised to brace for potentially deadly conditions.
"Hurricane Dorian developing an eye. Major hurricane likely today," KRQE meteorologist Christopher Nunley wrote on Twitter. "Wouldn't be surprised if Dorian intensifies into a Category 5 over the weekend. Florida, take this seriously, this is a life threatening hurricane."
"Hurricane [Dorian] has developed an eye...Expecting it to become a major hurricane today," meteorologist Ryan Maue added. "Nothing currently stopping storm from reaching Category 5. There I said it."
Initially popping up on radars as a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center said that as of 2 p.m. Friday, Dorian's maximum sustained winds were at 115 mph, which is a Category 3 storm, AccuWeather reports. At the time, the storm was located about 480 miles to the east of the northwestern Bahamas and had begun to slow its forward motion. It is expected to make landfall along the east coast of Florida, with current projections predicting between West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral, by Monday.
"Steering mechanisms will weaken while Dorian passes over very warm water with diminishing wind shear this weekend," AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said. "Given the potential for significant wind damage, flooding rainfall and a powerful storm surge, the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes for Dorian is also 4 for the mainland U.S."
The outlet also confirmed the possibility for Dorian to strengthen to and make landfall as a Category 5 hurricane. Prolonged periods of storm surge, damaging winds, and flooding rainfall are expected. Currently, storm surge is expected to reach 10 feet with locally higher levels near the eye and rainfall is expected to exceed 8-16 inches.
In anticipation of the storm, Florida state leaders have declared a State of Emergency, with Florida Sen. Rick Scott adding a Hurricane Preparedness section to his website, urging "all Floridians to take the time to make sure that their families and businesses are prepared for a storm."
On Friday, President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for Florida and "ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Dorian."
Currently, no evacuations have been ordered.