Michelle Marchante and Alex Harris
MIAMI — Florida's eastern coast is in for a major hurricane this Labor Day weekend as Hurricane Dorian continues to strengthen.
Wednesday saw the storm clear Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Dorian is in the warm Atlantic waters for the next few days and is steadily moving northwest at 13 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Where the storm is now
The hurricane was about 150 miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, as of Thursday's 8 a.m. updated forecast, which showed Dorian strengthened to maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, up from 80 on Wednesday evening.
Based on the current projections, Dorian is expected to turn into a Category 3 hurricane by Friday, with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, according to the hurricane center's advisory.
Where is Dorian landing?
Landing location is the million-dollar question. Forecasters say it's still too early to tell.
Nearly all the intensity models show Dorian becoming a stronger hurricane in the next couple of days, when it passes near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos islands and the Bahamas by Friday and Saturday. Dorian is about 425 miles east-southeast of the Bahamas, as of Thursday morning.
The track shows Dorian heading toward Florida's eastern coast by the weekend, but Wednesday's updates also saw the storm track trending more south, toward Miami-Dade.
"Residents in these areas should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and not focus on the exact forecast track of Dorian's center," the hurricane center said in its early morning advisory.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon for 26 counties in the storm's potential path and activated the state's Emergency Operations Center to Level 2. The state EOC is expected to ramp up on Friday.
"It's important for Floridians on the East Coast to monitor this storm closely," DeSantis said in a statement, urging Floridians to have seven days of supplies on hand. "I will continue to monitor Hurricane Dorian closely with emergency management officials. The state stands ready to support all counties along the coast as they prepare."
What forecasters do know is that the Bahamas, Florida and other parts in the southeastern United States may see heavy rainfall over the weekend and into early next week. Life-threatening flash floods, surf and rip current conditions are possible.
The Central Bahamas may see two to four inches of new rainfall, with isolated areas seeing up to six inches. The northwestern Bahamas and the coastal sections of the southeastern United States, including Florida, may see four to eight inches of rain. Isolated areas could see up to 12 inches.
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