Dorian was getting stronger as it set its sights on the U.S. mainland early Thursday, churning over open waters. It “is forecast to strengthen into a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days,” the National Hurricane Center said.
Dorian became a Category 1 hurricane just before making landfall on the U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday, causing power outages and minor flooding. Puerto Rico dodged a bullet, avoiding a direct hit.
The storm was expected to get more powerful on a path likely take it to Florida’s Atlantic coast, though an arrival farther north wasn’t out of the question. It could make landfall on the U.S. mainland as a Category 3 storm late Sunday or Monday morning, forecasters said.
As of 11 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Dorian’s center was some 90 miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico as it headed northwest at 13 mph, the hurricane center said. Dorian’s sustained winds increased to 85 mph, with higher gusts.
Flooding and power outages in U.S. Virgin Islands
There were some reports of power outages and flooding in the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra, the Associated Press reported. But Culebra Mayor William Solís said only one community lost power Wednesday.
“We’re happy because there are no damages to report,” Solís told the AP.
Albert Bryan Jr., the governor U.S. Virgin Islands, closed schools and government offices and issued a curfew from noon Wednesday until 6 a.m. Thursday morning. “This means that only emergency responders and those providing essential services would be permitted on the road at this time,” he said in a statement. “We ask for the public’s full cooperation during this time.”
South Florida residents begin gathering supplies
Miami resident Lanada Means said she purchased plywood at Home Depot on Wednesday to begin preparing for the storm. “My daughter messages me on Instagram and asked me if I knew about the storm, and I didn’t, so I came here on my lunch break. Tomorrow is gonna be crazy,” she told CBS Miami.
Carol Brafman said she is buying enough supplies for five family members. “They come to my house because I have a generator,” she told CBS Miami. “We’ve been through [Hurricane] Andrew and the last one we went north to Carolina. It’s not easy. None of us know.”
Florida governor declares state of emergency
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency Wednesday. He encouraged residents to gather seven days of supplies, including water, food and medicine. The storm is expected to reach the Florida coast this weekend. “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,” he said in a statement.