RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Data from the NOAA Hurricane Hunters Friday night indicate that Dorian has strengthened to an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds at 140 mph.
At 11 p.m., the National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Hunter aircraft measured the storm’s winds at 140 mph, with gusts up to 165 mph. Just six hours earlier the storm’s winds were at 115 mph.
A special update at 8:30 p.m. Friday night brought the news of Dorian becoming a Category 4 nearly 48 hours earlier than expected.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles.
The storm has kept a slow-moving pace Friday with west-northwest at 10 mph movement at 11 p.m. Earlier Friday, it was moving at 9 mph as compared to 14 mph Thursday.
It is expected to slow down even more as it approaches Florida on Monday when it could be a Category 4 hurricane. Dorian will be near the Florida peninsula late Monday or early Tuesday and while Florida will most certainly see major impacts from Dorian, an official landfall may not happen at all.
“Some additional strengthening is possible Saturday. Although fluctuations in intensity are possible early next week, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days,” the National Hurricane Center said.
The hurricane center said Friday at 8 p.m. that the coast of the Southeast US could see 6 to 12 inches of rain — with isolated amounts of 18 inches.
The storm is now 545 miles east of West Palm Beach as of 11 p.m. Friday.
The forecast shows Dorian making a turn to the north at some point, but when that turn happens will have significant impacts up and down the east coast.
The cone of uncertainty extends from the southern tip of Florida and up to the South Carolina coast, meaning the eye of the storm could make landfall at anyone of those points.
Swells from Dorian are expected to create dangerous surf conditions and rip currents on the southeast U.S. coast over the next few days.
Dorian will move over an environment that features very warm sea surface temperatures, weak wind shear to promote strengthening and no land in sight to impede its progress.
An area of high pressure near Bermuda should steer Dorian to the west, toward the east coast of Florida, but once it gets to Florida the storm could slow down to as much as 3 or 4 mph. This will create as much as two feet of rain in some spots and make the forecast more uncertain.
The various forecast models still vary regarding the specifics of where the storm will make landfall and what happens once it gets to Florida, but a trend developing Friday night was to keep the hurricane right along the coast line in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas as it moves north and northeast next week.
A northward curve is more likely after landfall, but when that turn north happens and how fast the storm is going is still a big question. One thing is certain, the Carolinas will not have any impact from Dorian over the Labor Day weekend, but rain could arrive from Dorian in North Carolina late next week. Many more changes to come, so continue to watch the storm.
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