Hurricane Dorian has strengthened to an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center announced Friday night.
The NHC statement said that the storm's change in intensity was detected by hurricane hunter aircraft.
As of 8:30 p.m. ET, the storm was located about 400 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas and 575 miles east of West Palm Beach, Fla. It was moving west-northwest at 10 mph.
HURRICANE DORIAN’S PATH: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
There is a hurricane warning in effect for the northwestern Bahamas and a hurricane watch is in effect for Andros Island, the NHC said. Hurricane conditions are expected in the northwestern Bahamas by Sunday.
“A life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds in the northwestern Bahamas,” the hurricane center said in its 8 p.m. ET update Friday. “Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.”
The hurricane center said the northwestern Bahamas could see 10 to 15 inches of rain and 2 to 4 inches in the central Bahamas.
Coastal sections of the U.S. could see 6 to 12 inches and possibly 18 inches in isolated areas. That amount of rainfall “may cause life-threatening flash floods,” the NHC warned.
The storm is predicted to make landfall somewhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia on Monday or Tuesday.
“Dorian is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph,” the NHC said. “A slower west-northwestward to westward motion should begin tonight and continue into early next week. On this track, the core of Dorian should move over the Atlantic well north of the southeastern and central Bahamas tonight and tomorrow, be near or over the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday, and be near the Florida east coast late Monday.”
“Additional strengthening is forecast, and Dorian is anticipated to remain an extremely dangerous hurricane while it moves near the northwestern Bahamas and approaches the Florida peninsula into early next week,” the NHC said.
Officials have advised residents of the potentially dangerous conditions depending on Dorian's strength when it makes landfall, including winds and flooding.
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President Trump on Friday approved an emergency declaration for Florida and “ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Dorian,” the White House said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for the entire state. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also declared a state of emergency, as did North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
The Navy ordered dozens of warships and aircraft to evacuate two bases in northeast Florida ahead of the storm.