Bust out the bottled water and plywood! Florida’s bracing for its first big storm of the season, and if some predictions are accurate, it could be a real doozy.
Hurricane Dorian, which is sitting pretty as a Category 2 a few hundred miles northwest of Puerto Rico, is inching through the Caribbean on its way to Florida. Along the way, it’s predicted to slow and gain strength from the warm waters near the Bahamas, before making a full charge into the Sunshine State on Monday night as a possible Category 4.
The last storm that strong to hit was Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Governor Ron DeSantis has already declared a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties, and 2,000 National Guard troops have been mobilized. The US Navy moved over 50 of its Florida-based planes to states outside the storm’s path. Florida State University even moved its season opener in Jacksonville against Boise State back to Tallahassee. However you look at it, Dorian is something serious.
“It’s going to impact the entirety of Florida, and residents need to be prepared,” Pete Gaynor, acting FEMA administrator said on CNN’s New Day. “So take the time now…to understand what your local risk is.”
If you don’t live in Florida, your “local risk” is probably watching too much storm coverage on TV and wasting your Labor Day weekend. If you DO live in Florida, or have any travel plans that involve Florida, you need to take some precautions.
Because Dorian is an unusual storm both due to its size and some other nearby systems that might affect its path, nobody’s quite sure where the storm is going to make landfall. The “cone of concern” as weather people call it, literally stretches from Jacksonville down to Key West, putting the entire state on high alert. And as the storm progresses, that may change.
If you have any flights that involve Florida, Georgia, or the Caribbean between now and Wednesday, airlines are offering waivers for your flights. Meaning you can change or cancel with no penalty. If travel to the Sunshine State is a must, understand that most airports will probably begin shutting down Sunday in preparation for landfall late-Monday, so if you’re not out by then you may need to drive.
And if evacuations ahead of Hurricane Irma in 2017 are any indication — when motorists told stories of 20-hour drives from Miami to Atlanta — that may be a highly unpleasant option.
So stay tuned through the weekend to see how Dorian unfolds. Jim Cantore is already on the ground in Florida, so you know it’s going to be a crazy weekend.