Published: Fri, August 30, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Dorian now expected to reach Category 4 strength before landfall

Dorian now expected to reach Category 4 strength before landfall

NASA's Terra satellite view of Dorian shows a typical swirling hurricane cloud pattern.

The storm is slowing its approach to the east coast of Florida and is gaining intensity.

Tiffany Miranda of Miami Springs waited well over 30 minutes in line at BJ's Wholesale Club in Hialeah to buy hurricane supplies.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday declared a state of emergency so local governments and emergency management agencies have time, resources and flexibility to get prepared.

Forecast models show Dorian could have maximum sustained winds as high as 130 miles per hour (209 kph) as it approaches the Florida coast over the Labor Day weekend, putting it right at the threshold of Category 4 strength.

Dorian may threaten during the Labor Day weekend as a major hurricane.

The storm could affect big population centres as well as major Florida tourist destinations. Center officials are moving a 400-foot-tall (122 meters) Mobile Launcher tower into the Vehicle Assembly Building, a 52-story building once used to prepare NASA's Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttles for flight. Royal Caribbean and Carnival began rerouting their cruise ships. The climatological peak of the Atlantic hurricane season falls on about September 10, so the span from late August to early October tends to be the most active time of the year.

Forecasters said it could hit the U.S. It was blamed for over 400 deaths. It said in such storms, "Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed".

Puerto Rico will be largely spared the wrath of Hurricane Dorian - as the Category 1 storm changed course and grazed the eastern edge of the island Wednesday.

Puerto Rico seemed to be spared any heavy wind and rain, a huge relief on an island where blue tarps still cover some 30,000 homes almost two years after Hurricane Maria.

Meanwhile, Dorian caused an island-wide blackout in St Thomas and St John in the US Virgin Islands, and scattered power outages in St Croix, government spokesman Richard Motta said. The island's 3.2 million inhabitants also depend on an unstable power grid that remains prone to outages since it was destroyed by Maria, a Category 4 storm.

There were no immediate reports of damage in the British Virgin Islands, where Governor Augustus Jaspert said crews were already clearing roads and inspecting infrastructure by late Wednesday afternoon.

One man died after falling from the roof of his house while cleaning a drain in preparation for the storm, officials said.

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