A powerful storm is bearing down on Florida again – and if Dorian it makes landfall, it will be the fourth consecutive year that a hurricane has hit the state.
Every county in the state is in a state of emergency, schools are canceling classes, and supermarket shelves are clearing out. Those who had Labor Day weekend plans in the Sunshine State should expect lots of rain.
Here’s what you need to know about Hurricane Dorian.
When will Dorian hit?
Dorian is on track to make landfall as a Category 4 storm on Monday.
If the forecast is correct, it will be the strongest hurricane to strike Florida’s East Coast since Andrew in 1992, according to CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller.
Where is Dorian heading?
Dorian is currently spinning in the Atlantic Ocean with winds increasing up to 105 mph.
So far, the storm has swept across the British and US Virgin Islands and whipped Puerto Rico with rain. It’s expected to get even stronger over the next few days – with winds reaching up to about 130 mph – though it will likely slow down before it hits.
If Dorian continues on its current forecast, it will smack Grand Bahama island on Sunday before it makes landfall in Florida on Monday. We’re still a few days out, so the storm could land anywhere from the Florida Keys to southeast Georgia. CNN meteorologist Judson Jones predicted on Thursday that it could be between the Space Coast and West Palm Beach.
You can track the path of the storm here.
How can I follow updates on the storm?
It’s also a good idea to stay on top of information from federal, state and local authorities.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has been streaming live news conferences on Facebook, and Florida emergency management officials are posting frequent updates on Twitter @FLSERT. Information on emergency preparedness, shelters, road closures and evacuation routes can be found here.
For other relevant information, keep an eye on your local TV and radio stations.
How big is Hurricane Dorian?
Dorian is about 130 miles wide as of Thursday evening, but don’t put too much stock in that measurement.
CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar says that number could shift by a lot as the storm continues to develop and intensify over the next few days.
How do I prepare for a hurricane?
Dorian might be days away, but people in affected areas will feel tropical-storm force winds of at least 39 mph as early as Saturday evening.
So make sure you do everything you can to prepare.
Stock up on bottled water. Buy a fire extinguisher. Fill up your car’s gas tank. Make sure your pets have identification tags.
Here’s a full checklist of what to do as a storm approaches, with tips from the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Hurricane Center.
How do I protect my house?
Protect your windows and doors with permanent storm shutters or half-inch marine plywood pre-cut to fit them, per the American Red Cross.
The organization advises that any lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools or trash cans should be moved inside to prevent them from being blown away from strong winds and possibly hurting someone. Rain gutters and downspouts should also be cleared to prevent flooding and pressure on awnings.
As another word of advice, the Red Cross says that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, but flood insurance does. The federal government has a website with more information about flood insurance here.
Haven’t we figured out how to stop hurricanes?
People have all kinds of ideas about how to stop hurricanes. Have scientists ever tried nuking them? Or harnessing their energy? What about cooling the ocean or seeding storms with silver hydroscopic particles?
Scientists get asked about destroying hurricanes so much that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a whole section devoted to it on its FAQ page. Despite all the suggestions from concerned citizens, we just aren’t there yet.
NOAA goes into more detail about why those tactics wouldn’t work on their website, but it essentially boils down to the fact that hurricanes are just way bigger and more powerful than most people can understand.