Hurricane Dorian Tracking Towards Florida

Hurricane Dorian continues to move away from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands this morning. Yesterday, wind gusts to hurricane force were reported on Saint Thomas as Dorian moved through the Virgin Islands. As of the 5:00 a.m. AST (0900 UTC) advisory this morning, Dorian remains a category one hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and minimum central pressure of 991 mb.
GOES-16 "True Color" image of Hurricane Dorian (image source: College of DuPage)
The eye of Dorian has become less pronounced this morning, and NHC did note in their 5 a.m. discussion that some dry air entrainment has occurred. Despite this, wind shear and dry air are forecast to subside in the next day or two, with Dorian then expected to move over very warm ocean waters. This should allow for steady intensification, and Dorian is likely to become a major hurricane (category three or higher). NHC notes that rapid intensification may even be possible.

In terms of the track forecast, Dorian is moving northwest this morning into a weakness in the semi-permanent Azores high, but this weakness is forecast to close during the next couple of days. As this occurs, Dorian is forecast to turn towards west-northwest or due west, eventually towards Florida. Impacts to Florida, possibly significant, appear likely at this point. In terms of which part of Florida, the jury is still out. There seems to be two camps of model forecasts. One group (led by the GFS and HWRF) points towards the central East Coast of Florida (i.e. around Cape Canaveral), with another group (led by the European and Canadian models) further south around Boca Raton to Fort Pierce (the "Treasure Coast" of Florida). There are some differences in timing as well with the northern camp being faster (landfall Monday morning), while the southern camp is slower (landfall Monday evening).

Given that there remains some spread in the track guidance in terms of both timing and position, the entire Florida Peninsula should be on alert. At this point, it's simply too early to rule out anyone in Florida. In fact, since Dorian is likely to turn north after landfall, folks in Georgia and the Carolinas should be on alert as well.

Probability of tropical storm force winds (image source: NHC)

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