As of 11am, Hurricane Dorian is now currently just one mph shy of attaining major hurricane strength and will continue to strengthen throughout today and this weekend. Previously, an upper-level low pressure system has produced some shear on Dorian’s west side, but as shown by the water vapor imagery loop, the upper-level low is making its way westward. It’ll continue westward and pass between Cuba and the Florida Keys, while Dorian takes advantage of high sea surface temperatures and lower shear off the Southeast U.S. coast. Although there may be later opportunities for Dorian to encounter shear, there won’t be much of an issue for the storm in the foreseeable future.
Both the European and GFS operational guidance insists on a Florida landfall. The GFS is a bit farther west than the European model, but both models agree that there will be an eventual turn northward that’ll take the storm through Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. We will have to continue to monitor the strength of the Bermuda ridge, which still could allow for a turn northward more quickly. However, we often struggle when attempting to nail down when a tropical system will turn. It can remain a challenge until the turn actually occurs; thus, we have no choice but to warn those who could suffer major impacts.
The latest forecast loop from the European model has Dorian making landfall in Florida and then proceeding to ride up along the Southeast coast, which is a completely viable solution. When we look at the European ensembles, we can see that some of its members take Dorian northward before hitting Florida and then have it impacting the Carolinas, which is another viable solution. So again, we’re currently faced with two potential scenarios, both of which could produce devastating impacts for certain regions. Luckily, we’re able to narrow down the region that will face potential impacts, but specifics are still iffy, as always.
As I’ve mentioned in several updates, please take into account the flooding risk with Dorian. The Weather Prediction Center has produced a 7-day rainfall forecast for this storm. Depending on track, rainfall totals could be higher, even into the Carolina. Around 1-2 feet of rainfall would not be out of the question, since Dorian should slow and could ride inland along the Southeast coast.
The National Hurricane Center has maximum sustained winds reaching 140 mph with higher gusts. This seems perfectly realistic, given favorable environmental conditions. Their current track has Dorian hitting south-central Florida as a major hurricane and then turning northward. Although you should expect changes to this forecast in the coming days, you should plan as if this forecast will come to fruition.
We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will provide you with new updates as the forecast changes.