SC Staff Report
Hurricane Dorian was getting stronger early Thursday morning as it set its sights on the U.S. mainland and the City of Sanibel began notifying islanders to be prepared. “Strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane on Friday,” the National Hurricane Center said.
Dorian is forecast to strike the east coast of central Florida on Monday or Tuesday and very slowly move westward to the Gulf of Mexico. The city is urging everyone on the island to have a 5 to 7 day supply of water and non-perishable food; top vehicles with fuel; have adequate cash; refill prescriptions and have all required medication supplies; and secure any potential outdoor projectiles.
The J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge has announced it will close Saturday, Aug. 31, to take appropriate precautions for approaching the storm. It will remain closed until further notice. “The refuge will reopen if there are not any impacts,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland. To confirm refuge hours, call 239-472-1100 or refer to its Facebook page.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Wednesday. “I will continue to monitor Hurricane Dorian closely with emergency management officials. The state stands ready to support all counties along the coast as they prepare,” he said in a statement.
Dorian became a Category 1 hurricane just before making landfall on the U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday. The storm was on a path likely taking it to Florida’s Atlantic coast, though an arrival farther north wasn’t out of the question. It could make landfall on the U.S. mainland as a Category 3 storm late Sunday or Monday morning, forecasters said.
On its current track, Dorian “should move over the Atlantic well east of the southeastern and central Bahamas today and on Friday, and approach the northwestern Bahamas on Saturday,” the hurricane center said.