SC Staff Report
The National Hurricane Center has said Hurricane Dorian is expected to strengthen into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm with winds of almost 140 mph and slam into Florida’s east coast late Monday or early Tuesday – nearly 10 mph faster and a day later than previously forecast, as Dorian’s forward motion began to slow.
Unsure of Dorian’s effect to the island, the Sanibel City Council met in a special meeting at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, to declare a state of local emergency. Florida Governor Ron Desantis declared a full state of emergency Thursday, Aug. 29, and President Donald Trump authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster-relief efforts on Friday.
An evacuation is not currently planned for the island, but the city has been preparing for the past three days and urging citizens to have up to a seven day supply of water, non-perishable food and cash, as well as refill prescriptions and fuel up vehicles. The Sanibel Recreation Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, but the ‘Ding’ Darling refuge will close that day to begin storm preparations. It will remain closed until further notice.
The hurricane center’s projected track showed the storm hitting around Palm Beach County, but predicting its course with any confidence this far out is difficult, and forecasters cautioned that all of Florida could be in harm’s way. Forecasters also warned that the storm’s slow movement could subject the state to a drawn-out pummeling from wind, storm surge and heavy rain.
The degree of impact to Southwest Florida remains uncertain, said Lee County Emergency Management Services in a statement on Friday. It’s too early to know exactly how severe wind or storm surge impacts will be to the area, but enduring rain with localized flooding and the potential of downed trees are expected, the statement included.
The hurricane season typically peaks between mid-August and late October. One of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S. was on Labor Day 1935, according to the Associated Press. “The unnamed Category 5 hurricane crashed ashore along Florida’s Gulf Coast on Sept. 2. It was blamed for over 400 deaths,” the AP reported.