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Dorian bashes Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and will likely hit Florida this weekend

PortandTerminal.com, August 28, 2019  (4:20 PM ADT)

Tropical Storm Dorian strengthened to a hurricane Wednesday afternoon as it threatened the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, with forecasters predicting it could become a Category 3 hurricane by the time it hits Florida over the weekend.

Dorian became a hurricane near the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the National Hurricane Center. There were multiple observations of hurricane-force winds in St. Thomas, according to the hurricane center. An elevated weather station on Buck Island, just south of St. Thomas, reported a sustained wind of 82 mph and a gust of 111 mph, the center said.

The storm was expected to move near or over the U.S. and British Virgin Islands Wednesday afternoon and then move over the Atlantic Ocean east of the southeastern Bahamas, the hurricane center said.

The governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Albert Bryan Jr., established a territory-wide curfew in effect until 6 a.m. Thursday, according to a statement from the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency.

As of Wednesday afternoon, hurricane warnings were in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico’s island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra. A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning were in effect for Puerto Rico.

The weather center said hurricane conditions were ongoing over portions of the U.S. Virgin Islands and were expected over Vieques, Culebra, and the British Virgin Islands Wednesday. Tropical storm conditions were forecast for Puerto Rico’s mainland Wednesday afternoon and night.

A couple boards up the door of their beachfront house as Tropical Storm Dorian approaches in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

Chances are increasing that the storm will approach Florida bringing 100-mile-per-hour winds, making it a Category 2 hurricane, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. But first, it’s going to dump torrential rains on Puerto Rico, following a shift of the storm’s center overnight. It will be the first major storm to hit Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria devastated the island with 155 mph winds in 2017.

Dorian’s winds are now 60 mph, according to the center’s 8 a.m. update, so it’s not yet a hurricane. But it’s quickly getting more organized. President Donald Trump has approved a Puerto Rico emergency declaration and ordered federal assistance for the territory to support local response.

“The central coast of Florida and even up to the Carolinas should be watching out for this,” said Adam Douty, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. There is “high confidence” it will be a strong Category 1 or even Category 2 hurricane when it strikes early next week, he said.

Political response? As expected.

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