Sep. 3--Hurricane Dorian remained powerful Tuesday afternoon despite weakening into a Category 2 storm as it grew larger in size and finally began moving northwest, aiming its dangerous winds and life-threatening storm surge off Florida's coast after devastating the Bahamas for two solid days.
At 2 p.m., the storm remained a high Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and higher gusts. It was located 105 miles east of Fort Pierce and 65 miles north of Freeport as its eyewall is moving away from Grand Bahama Island.
Dorian picked up even more speed and is now moving northwest at 5 mph after stalling most of Monday and overnight into Tuesday morning with 120 mph winds as it tormented the Bahamas. Dangerous winds and life-threatening storm surge continued on Grand Bahama Island midday Tuesday.
"Hurricane Dorian is much weaker today than it was this time yesterday," WOFL Fox-35 meteorologist Brooks Tomlin said after the 2 p.m. update. "Current winds are down to 110 mph in the eyewall, and barometric pressure is up to 959 mb. ... When Hurricane Matthew passed by our coast three years ago, it had sustained winds of 125 mph and a barometric pressure near 936 mb. Right now, Matthew was stronger than Dorian is forecast to be when it passes offshore tonight."
The National Hurricane Center warned people not to be fooled by a false sense of safety because Dorian's wind speeds decreased: "The combined wind, surge, and floods hazards are the same or even worse since the hurricane has become larger."
The threat of life-threatening flash floods will increase for parts of Central and North Florida's coast today. Officials in northeastern Florida are urging people to stay away from the beaches. Flagler County could see waves up to 20 feet tall, Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord said Tuesday.
As hurricane and tropical storm watches, and storm surge warnings and watches, were discontinued for stretches of South Florida's coast, many new hurricane watches and warnings were issued for the Carolinas, with multiple threats expected across the southeastern United States.
-- Hurricane Dorian News
Hurricane Dorian: Threat drops in Central Florida to strong winds, rain
By Stephen Hudak
Sep 03, 2019 -- 2:17 PM
The storm is projected to continue a north-northwest movement today and Florida is completely out of the the cone of uncertainty, although the size of the storm continues to send tropical storm-force gusts into the state's coastal counties. Hurricane-force winds extend out 60 miles with tropical storm-force winds extending out 175 miles as the storm has grown larger.
"Dorian may have been downgraded to a Category 2 storm but it's still very powerful & destructive," Sen. Rick Scott tweeted shortly after noon Tuesday. "This storm will bring life-threatening storm surge, flooding, & winds. This storm shouldn't be taken lightly."
Sustained winds along the Treasure Coast and into Brevard County today are expected to be 30-45 mph with wind gusts of 50-60 mph possible, forecasters said. Gusts up to 75 mph could be a threat as Dorian's outer rain bands pass over the state. A wind gust of 61 mph was reported this morning in Juno Beach in Palm Beach County.
Wind gusts up to tropical storm force were reported along the Treasure Coast about midday Tuesday. A gust of 46 mph was recorded at Jensen Beach.
In addition, storm surges of 3 to 5 feet above normal could occur along the coast of Florida and rainfall of 3 to 6 inches with pockets of 10 inches.
"Dorian is expected to more or less maintain its intensity for about 36 hours," NHC forecasters said. "After that time period, increasing vertical shear should cause gradual weakening. However, the system is likely to remain a major hurricane for the next few days."
Its projected path keeps it offshore nearly 100 miles, although some models bring it closer to Brevard County by Wednesday. The NHC's latest track keeps it as a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds off Palm Bay by 11 p.m. Tuesday, and off Daytona Beach by 11 a.m. Wednesday.
At the 2 p.m. update, the Bahamas changed the hurricane warning to a tropical storm warning for Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands.
Earlier Tuesday, a storm surge warning was extended north to South Santee River, South Carolina, and a storm surge watch was extended north to Cape Lookout, North Carolina. A hurricane warning was issued for the coast of South Carolina from north of Edisto Beach to the South Santee River. A hurricane watch was issued from north of South Santee River to Duck, North Carolina, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds. A tropical storm warning has been extended north to Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
Also Tuesday morning, a storm surge warning was discontinued south of Jupiter Inlet, and a storm surge watch was discontinued south of Lantana. Also discontinued were a hurricane watch from Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet, a tropical storm watch from Golden Beach to Deerfield Beach, and a tropical storm watch for Lake Okeechobee.
On Grand Bahama Island, wind gusts up to 130 mph, storm surge 10 to 15 feet above normal, and extreme flooding from up to 30 inches of rain are possible throughout much of Tuesday.
Hurricane Dorian came to a catastrophic daylong halt over the northwest Bahamas after it struck Sunday as a deadly Category 5 hurricane with 185 mph sustained winds and 220 mph gusts.
It flooded the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama with walls of water that lapped into the second floors of buildings, trapped people in attics and drowned the Grand Bahama airport under 6 feet of water. At least five people died and 21 injured people were airlifted to the capital by the U.S. Coast Guard, Bahamas officials said.
"We are in the midst of a historic tragedy," Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. "The devastation is unprecedented and extensive."
United Nations officials estimate more than 60,000 people in the northwest Bahamas will need food. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says some 62,000 people also will need access to clean drinking water. Matthew Cochrane says about 45% of homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco were severely damaged or destroyed and the organization will help 20,000 of the most vulnerable people, including a large Haitian community.
Winds and rain continued to pound the northwest islands, sending people fleeing the floodwaters from one shelter to another. Rainfall exceeded 24 inches over parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands, according to NASA satellite-based estimates.
Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands said Dorian devastated the health infrastructure in Grand Bahama island and massive flooding has rendered the main hospital unusable.
He said Tuesday that the storm caused less severe damage in the neighboring Abaco islands and he hopes to send an advanced medical team there soon.
Sands said the main hospital in Marsh Harbor is intact and sheltering 400 people but needs food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He also said crews are trying to airlift between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco who haven't received dialysis since Friday.
The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people injured on Abaco Island, which Dorian hit on Sunday with sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph, a strength matched only by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before storms were named. Scientists say climate change generally has been fueling more powerful and wetter storms and the only recorded storm more powerful than Dorian was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 mph winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.
Bahamian officials said they received a "tremendous" number of calls from people in flooded homes. One radio station said it received more than 2,000 distress messages, including reports of a 5-month-old baby stranded on a roof and a woman with six grandchildren who cut a hole in a roof to escape rising floodwaters. At least two designated storm shelters flooded.
Dorian killed one person in Puerto Rico, at the start of its path through the Caribbean.
Central Florida gets ready
FPL, which services most of Florida's east coast counties, reported power outages popping up along the coastal counties. As of noon Tuesday, FPL reported 2,851 customers without power between Palm Beach and Volusia counties, down from more than 4,000 this morning. Winds have to be under 35 mph for FPL trucks to service power outages. The company addressed more than 60,000 power outage calls since Sunday.
Orlando Utilities Commission said Tuesday it is releasing all of its out-of-state crews to help other areas.
Orlando International Airport shut down early Tuesday morning, and local theme parks cut back hours or are closing altogether Tuesday as Central Florida braces for potentially heavy rains and tropical storm force or stronger winds.
Orlando Sanford International Airport, Orlando Melbourne International Airport and Daytona Beach International Airport shut down on Monday.
FlightAware.com reported that that airlines had cancelled 1,361 flights within, into or out of the U.S. by Monday afternoon -- vastly above an average day -- with Fort Lauderdale International the most affected, and airlines had already canceled 1,057 flights for Tuesday, many involving Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sought to guard against "storm fatigue," urging residents to pay attention to local alerts and evacuation orders, in case the storm jogs west before turning north, as most forecasters predict.
"This has been frustrating, I know, for a lot of people because it seems like we've been talking about this a long time, but we are in a situation where the storm is stalling very close to our coast," DeSantis said from the state Emergency Operations Center. "It is going to make a move, and the movement that it makes is going to have a lot of impacts on Floridians."
In Central Florida, many residents encountered long lines and shortages at some stations as a run on gas took flight as Dorian's magnitude became clear.
Almost a quarter of gas stations in the Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne were without fuel, according to GasBuddy.
Osceola County announced a curfew to begin Tuesday night ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Dorian along Florida's east coast.
Evacuation orders have been issued by most counties for coastal areas from Palm Beach County north to the Florida-Georgia border. Several hospitals were evacuated. In addition, 72 nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been evacuated, with more expected as Dorian moves up the coast.
-- The Daily Disney
Hurricane Dorian prompts Disney, SeaWorld, Universal to change parks' hours
By Dewayne Bevil
Sep 02, 2019 -- 5:41 PM
Orange and Osceola County government offices and courts will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday because of Hurricane Dorian.
Parking fees have been waived in downtown Orlando garages since noon Monday for those looking for an alternative place to park their vehicles. In Kissimmee, overnight parking will be free at Toho Square parking garage, the SunRail/Intermodal parking garage and the Osceola County Courthouse parking garage downtown.
SunRail still plans to be shut down through Friday, and Amtrak has canceled multiple trains through Tuesday. Lynx hasn't announced any cancellations, but its buses will not run in sustained winds of 35 mph or more.
Local theme parks tweaked hours or announced closures, but Disney added back operating hours at Epcot and Disney Springs for Tuesday.
-- Hurricane Dorian News
Tropical Storm Fernand forms as Hurricane Dorian churns near Florida
By Richard Tribou and Tiffini Theisen
Sep 03, 2019 -- 1:56 PM
Central Florida school systems had already canceled classes for Tuesday, as did area colleges and universities. Brevard County public schools will remain closed through Thursday. The UCF campus is closed through Thursday. Rollins College hopes to reopen Thursday with classes resuming on Friday. Valencia College will be closed through Thursday.
The Orlando Veterans Affairs Healthcare System is providing resources for Central Florida veterans affected by Hurricane Dorian to receive emergency services and prescription medication.
President Trump already declared a state of emergency and was briefed about what he called a "monstrous" storm. He was receiving hourly updates on Labor Day while at his private Virginia golf club, where he spent several hours Monday.
The National Hurricane Center said the track would carry the storm "dangerously close to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening and then move dangerously close to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday."
-- Hurricane Dorian News
Hurricane Dorian closes some Orlando restaurants, but Waffle House, others stay open
By Austin Fuller
Sep 03, 2019 -- 2:06 PM
While it was expected to stay offshore, meteorologist Daniel Brown cautioned that "only a small deviation" could draw the storm's dangerous core toward land.
A mandatory evacuation of entire South Carolina coast took effect Monday covering about 830,000 people, and transportation officials reversed all lanes of Interstate 26 from Charleston to head inland earlier than planned after noticing traffic jams from evacuees and vacationers heading home on Labor Day, Gov. Henry McMaster said.
A few hours later, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ordered mandatory evacuations for that state's Atlantic coast, also starting at midday Monday. A reverse traffic or "contraflow" on Interstate 16 began Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, forecasters were watching four potential tropical systems that could become the next tropical depression and possibly Tropical Storm Fernand.
Staff writers Ricky Pinela, Lisa Maria Garza, Tess Sheets, Dave Harris, Stephen Hudak, Roger Simmons, Matt Palm, Cristobal Reyes, Ryan Gillespie and Naseem Miller and the Associated Press contributed to this story.
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