Dorian could become Category 3 hurricane, make landfall in Florida

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Tropical Storm Dorian has strengthened and the latest update from the National Hurricane Center calls for the storm to reach Category 3 status Sunday morning.

The latest forecast cone shows the storm making landfall near somewhere along the Florida coast.

Dorian is expected to make landfall in Puerto Rico Wednesday, bringing dangerous rains to the island still reeling from 2017’s Hurricane Maria.

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By Friday evening, the storm is forecast to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane as it tracks east of the Bahamas. It could reach Category 2 status when it makes landfall on the east coast of Florida early Monday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis urged residents to start preparing for Dorian to come their way.

“Based on the current track of Tropical Storm Dorian, all residents on the East Coast should prepare for impacts, including strong winds, heavy rain and flooding. Make sure to have your supplies ready and follow @FLSERT and local media for the latest updates on the forecast,” DeSantis said.

Tropical Storm Dorian strengthened slightly overnight as it moved toward Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

As of 11 a.m., Dorian was about 40 miles southeast of St. Croix. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph while moving northwest at 13 mph.

The storm is expected to pass over or near western and central Puerto Rico on Wednesday as authorities warned of landslides, widespread flooding and power outages. President Donald Trump declared an emergency Tuesday night and ordered federal assistance for local authorities.

“Practically the entire island will be under sustained tropical storm force winds,” said Roberto García, director of U.S. National Weather Service San Juan, during a press conference late Tuesday.

Many on the island are still reeling from Maria. Nearly 3,000 people are estimated to have died in that storm or its aftermath, making it among the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history. Officials on the island said that residents still living with blue tarps from FEMA and without proper shelter will be prioritized as they prepare for the storm.