Dorian strengthens to Category 3 hurricane

ABC Action News tracks tropical developments in the Atlantic

The US National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Dorian has strengthened to an "extremely dangerous" category three storm and poses a "significant threat to Florida and the north-western Bahamas".

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.

"Dorian is moving toward the northwest near 10 miles per hour (17 km/h)".

"It's going to be pretty scary because you're going to have this big hurricane sitting off the coast of Florida and it's not going to move", said private meteorologist Ryan Maue, but with the storm slowing and likely to turn north he adds: "The worst effects of a direct landfall are not in the forecast".

The hurricane center warns people in southern and central Florida to keep a close eye as Dorian approaches.

The hurricane is now far east of the Bahamas, but it's traveling northwest and is expected to move east of the southeastern and central Bahamas today and approach the northwestern Bahamas tomorrow.

Tropical storm force winds are possible.

The state has close to 1 million gallons of water and almost 2 million meals ready to be distributed where needed and is working with Publix and Walmart to ensure their stores are able to restock quickly. "That's strong winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge". It had maximum sustained winds of 115 miles an hour (185km an hour), according to the latest NHC advisory. Ten to 15 inches of rain are expected to fall over the northwest Bahamas.

More than 970,000 homes on the east coast of the state could be vulnerable to a storm surge, according to a recent report from real estate data firm CoreLogic. Brevard County and Martin County officials said residents of barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying areas would be under a mandatory evacuation order beginning Sunday morning - though they could change.

"Sometimes if you evacuate too soon, you may evacuate into the path of the storm if it changes", Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

DeSantis said he had submitted a request for pre-landfall disaster declaration Thursday for all of the state's 67 counties to enable federal resources and funding for emergency measures to reach the state as Dorian pummels the state.

A state of emergency has been declared in Florida as the storm, which now looks like a giant clam or sideways Georgia O'Keeffe painting, bears down.

"We're fully mobilized", Greg Oravec, the mayor of Port St. Lucie, Fla., told NPR.

Mindful of that warning, Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik was putting up storm shutters on his Florida home on Friday afternoon and worrying about the flooding Dorian could unleash on his barrier island town.

"We're anticipating a massive amount of flooding", DeSantis said, "We urge all Floridians to have seven days' worth of food, medicine, and water".

Although the storm's track is still uncertain on the Florida Peninsula, Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach and the Trump Doral resort near Miami are in the vicinity of Dorian's projected path. He told reporters that "Mar-a-Lago can handle itself" and that he is more anxious about Florida. Doral's pool and other amenities were reportedly closed, with generators ready to supply backup power if necessary. Trump canceled a planned trip to Poland this weekend because of the storm.

Adj. Gen. James Eifert said 2,000 members of the Florida National Guard have been activated, and the number is expected to double by the end of Saturday. Ominously, the storm had developed a distinct eye and slowed its westward progress, meaning it could spend more time over land - and do more damage.

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