Center of dangerous Dorian may not reach Florida coast

Forecast models make dramatic shift; hurricane aims towards the Carolinas

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The predicted track of Hurricane Dorian is moving further away from the Florida coastline as it becomes better organized as a powerful Category 4 storm. At 5 a.m. the major storm was still packing extreme winds of 150 mph -- 7 mph short of Category 5. The latest track keeps Dorian just offshore of Florida if it follows the center line.

At 5 a.m., Dorian continued moving toward the west at 8 mph. A slower westward motion was expected to continue for the next day or two. The storm was about 310 miles east of West Palm Beach. On its current track, the core of Dorian was expected to be near or over portions of the Bahamas on Sunday.

A tropical storm watch was issued for the east of Florida from Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet.

The forecast path of the storm shows Dorian staying just offshore of Florida's East Coast early next week and bringing it past Jacksonville about 115 miles offshore next Wednesday around noon. That would bring Tropical Storm force winds to our coastal counties.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For continuing updates, view
Tropical Storm Warnings go up in Florida ahead of Dorian

Dorian's current track is in between the paths of Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Floyd (illustrated left).

The primary concerns will be wind gusts up to 65 mph at the beach, coastal flooding and erosion, flooding related to strong northerly winds, and 2-4 inches of rain in our coastal areas,

If Dorian tracked offshore of Jacksonville as the current track suggests, here would be the possible impacts:

  • Coastal flood advisory through the weekend for potential minor flooding during high tides.
  • Increasing shower chances through the weekend and into next week. 
  • Swells from the approaching system will grow as it hears, causing potentially life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
  • Local tides will already be astronomically elevated through the weekend due to the New Moon.
  • If the hurricane remains along the coast, coastal flooding erosion will be likely. 

Coastal areas could get 3 to 6 inches of rain, with 10 inches in some places.

The hope of dodging Dorian's fury came Friday, even as the storm ratcheted up from a menacing Category 3 hurricane to an even more dangerous Category 4. But the same news that is welcome in Florida raises the threat of strong winds and life-threatening storm surge along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.

RESOURCE: Know your flood/evacuation zone
RELATED: Only 25 major hurricanes in Florida in past 100 years

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in Florida and authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster-relief efforts. He told reporters that "Mar-a-Lago" can handle itself" and is more worried about Florida.

As Dorian closed in, it upended people's Labor Day weekend plans. Major airlines began allowing travelers to change their reservations without a fee. The big cruise lines began rerouting their ships. Disney World and the other resorts in Orlando found themselves in the storm's projected path.

The hurricane season typically peaks between mid-August and late October. One of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S. was on Labor Day 1935. The unnamed Category 5 hurricane crashed ashore along Florida's Gulf Coast on Sept. 2. It was blamed for over 400 deaths.

About the Authors:

After covering the weather from every corner of Florida and doing marine research in the Gulf, Mark Collins settled in Jacksonville to forecast weather for The First Coast.

Richard Nunn is the Weather Authority Chief Meteorologist