Hurricane Dorian Maintains Strength, Current Course Toward Florida as Possible Cat 4 Storm

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 85 mph

Hurricane Dorian has kept its strength as it continues moving away from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, according to the National Hurricane Center - and could hit the state of Florida as a major, devastating storm.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Dorian was located about 220 miles north-northwest of San Juan. The storm, which has maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, is moving northwest at a speed of 13 mph.

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No warnings or watches are in effect as of 11 a.m.

President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration Wednesday night for the U.S. Virgin Islands with the purpose of "alleviating the hardship and suffering" caused by Dorian.

Dorian quickly intensified from a tropical storm to a hurricane Wednesday and could be a major hurricane as it approaches Florida over Labor Day weekend, forecasters said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Wednesday evening for 26 counties thought to be in the most possible danger, adding during a Thursday press conference at the National Hurricane Center that more counties could be added.

During the press conference, DeSantis urged residents to be prepared for days ahead of what would be the second strong storm to hit the state in the last year after Michael, a Category 5 storm, struck the panhandle last October.

"I’ve declared a state of emergency to ensure local governments and emergency management agencies have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared," DeSantis wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

The storm is expected to move near or over the U.S. and British Virgin Islands Wednesday into Thursday and then move over the Atlantic well east of the southeastern Bahamas on Thursday and Friday.

Trump declared an emergency for Puerto Rico Tuesday night and ordered federal assistance for local authorities.

Once Dorian moves through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, it was expected to slowly strengthen, and could become a major Category 3 hurricane as it approached Florida, NHC forecasters said.

DeSantis urged Florida residents to prepare for impacts from Dorian as most of the Sunshine State remained in the system's forecast cone Wednesday.

"We've been monitoring this storm with @FLSERT and will continue to watch closely. All Floridians on the East Coast should have 7 days of supplies, prepare their homes & follow the track closely," DeSantis tweeted.

Dorian is expected to turn more to the west-northwest toward Florida and the southeast coast of the United States over the coming days.

"All indications are that by this Labor Day weekend, a powerful hurricane will be near the Florida or southeastern coast of the United States," The NHC said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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