Hurricane Dorian has slowed its approach to south Florida, but that’s not necessarily a good sign. The storm has gathered strength in the Caribbean, increasing to a Category 2 hurricane overnight and close to becoming Category 3. As Florida and now Georgia batten down the hatches, forecasters predict Dorian will make landfall over the holiday weekend as a Category 4 hurricane:
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 30, 2019
Now forecast to approach Florida with winds of 140 mph, Dorian, should it make landfall at those wind speeds, would become just the ninth hurricane to do so, dating back to 1851.
States of emergency have been issued in Florida and in Georgia as residents scramble to acquire supplies before Dorian, which strengthened into a Category 2 overnight into Friday, is forecast to make landfall early Tuesday as a Category 4 and dump more than a foot of rain.
CNN’s forecasters predict a Monday landfall, but the impact will be felt earlier in either case. It will be the worst storm to hit Florida since 1992:
At 105 mph, Dorian is the strongest storm of the Atlantic hurricane season so far. If it makes landfall as a Category 4 storm on Monday as forecast, with sustained winds of around 130 mph, it will be the strongest hurricane to strike Florida’s East Coast since Andrew in 1992, according to CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller.
Dorian is currently a Category 2 storm.
It will also be the fourth year in a row of a hurricane of any strength hitting Florida, the most years in a row since the 1940s.
It’s significant enough that Donald Trump canceled a planned trip to Poland in order to remain on hand for the storm. Mike Pence will go in Trump’s place instead while Trump directs emergency efforts from the White House. Trump’s connections to Florida run deep, and he was concerned enough about the “absolute monster” storm to put out a video last night warning Floridians about what is coming — even if no one’s still quite sure where it’s coming:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2019
Unsure where Hurricane Dorian is going to land over Labor Day weekend, many Florida residents faced a sense of helplessness as they prepared for what President Donald Trump said could be an “absolute monster” of a storm.
“All indications are it’s going to hit very hard and it’s going to be very big,” Trump said in a video he tweeted Thursday evening, comparing Dorian to Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in 1992. …
With the storm’s track still unclear, no immediate mass evacuations were ordered. Along Florida’s east coast, local governments began distributing sandbags, shoppers rushed to stock up on food, plywood and other emergency supplies at supermarkets and hardware stores, and motorists topped off their tanks and filled gasoline cans. Some fuel shortages were reported in the Cape Canaveral area.
Josefine Larrauri, a retired translator, went to a Publix supermarket in Miami only to find empty shelves in the water section.
“I feel helpless because the whole coast is threatened,” she said. “What’s the use of going all the way to Georgia if it can land there?”
That uncertainty will continue for at least another day, depending on the pace of the storm’s track, and will complicate efforts to evacuate when its landfall becomes more apparent. The broad target at the moment also represents a massive challenge to FEMA and other emergency responders, who will have to remain stretched thin until almost the last moment.
For the rest of us, time to dig deep and contribute what we can to legitimate emergency-response charities, and to pray for our fellow Americans in Dorian’s path, of course. The American Red Cross, Save the Children, Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities are usually good choices for those who can donate cash and goods in response to disaster situations.