Although there are still some strong cells moving by, the center of Dorian has moved past the Virgin Islands, and is now a hurricane. It even looks like one; here is a radar scan from the San Juan Airport Terminal radar from about 4:30pm, and a a recent GOES satellite image(click to see full size):
Not that much has changed from a dynamical track model standpoint since earlier today. They jitter around a bit from run to run, but most still change the “steering” for the storm to take it due west in to Florida this weekend. What has changed is that because Dorian avoided both Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, it enters the very warm waters and favorable atmosphere around The Bahamas poised to intensify into a major hurricane. Here is the latest (5pm Wednesday 28 August) official forecast track. It has shifted a bit south in anticipation of the stronger ridge. The biggest change from earlier today is they are now fully expecting landfall to be as a major hurricane:
Are there other scenarios? Yes, it could just keep on the more northward turn, and end up out towards Bermuda if the expected steering doesn’t develop, or if it isn’t as strong as expected, end up striking the Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina coast. But most of the guidance says the NHC scenario is most likely. That said, it is a bit of a dicey situation because we won’t know for at least another 24-36 hours if the turn is going to develop, or how sharp, or if it won’t turn north again later. Sorry about the uncertainty, but that’s just how it is with this storm. However, there is still plenty of time to react no matter what happens.
I’m often asked when it is time to take a storm seriously. That will probably be tomorrow if you are in Florida or The Bahamas. In the southern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, the storm is expected to stay to your east. In the Northern Bahamas and Florida, pay attention to NHC for watch and warnings, and your local emergency managers for evacuation planning, as they will likely be coming soon. Make sure you know your shelters, evacuation routes and zones. If you didn’t have a plan already (seriously, you’re in FLORIDA and don’t have a hurricane plan???) then visit the FEMA site for some ideas and get it together. It looks like a bad Labor Day might be in store.
Further up the coast in GA/SC/NC, no need to freak out yet and break the refresh key on your computer (or these days, smudge up your smartphone and exhaust your data plan), but check in Friday with your favorite source of reliable information (which should be the NHC “Key Messages” product) and see what’s going on. There is still plenty of time to watch and see where this thing is going, but reviewing your plans and making sure you know what to do if the storm doesn’t turn enough (either way!) is smart. If it makes landfall as expected, there is some concern for coastal flooding as we are approaching a new moon and higher than normal tides anyway. The onshore winds will exacerbate that – but still a bit early to tell on that aspect, and the further shift to the south helps..