The southern United States and the Bahamas are bracing for Hurricane Dorian as it slowly churns across the Atlantic and is expected to become a dangerous, Category 4 storm as it makes landfall in the days ahead.
A hurricane model showed Dorian bringing between 1 and 2 feet of rain “for basically every coastal county from Miami to North Carolina,” according to meteorologist Eric Holthaus. “Combined with storm surge and exceptionally high new moon tides, this would be a coastal flooding catastrophe.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded a state of emergency to include all of the state’s 67 counties, citing the storm’s “uncertain path.” He said late Thursday night that he sent a letter to President Trump requesting he declare a pre-landfall disaster for all counties. Hours earlier, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in 12 counties.
The Bahamas Meteorology Department issued its twelfth alert on Dorian Friday morning, warning of 6 to 12 inches of rainfall over the northwest Bahamas as it approaches on Saturday.
The storm is traveling at 12 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, making it a Category 2 hurricane, according to the National Weather Service.
Dorian is expected to be one of the strongest hurricanes to strike Florida’s east coast in decades. The National Hurricane Center warned of an increasing likelihood of a life-threatening storm surge along parts Florida’s east coast.
The storm is expected to move inland, where its slow pace could leave communities facing unrelenting winds and rain. The hurricane winds could caused long-term power outages with areas uninhabitable for weeks or months, according to the NHC wind scale guide.
Although the storm’s track is still uncertain, President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and Doral resorts are potentially in Dorian’s path. The Miami Herald reported that all employees of Mar-a-Lago except for security personnel were sent home for the duration of the storm. Doral’s pool and other amenities were reportedly closed with generators ready to supply back-up power if necessary.
President Trump canceled his plans to travel to Poland this weekend as the hurricane neared.
Dorian’s approach comes days after the Trump administration announced that it would divert $271 million in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency — including $155 million from FEMA’s disaster relief fund — to other units in the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to support the president’s border enforcement priorities.
Dorian passed over parts of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and other islands in the Caribbean on Wednesday, causing power outages and flooding as it gained strength.