Florida Leaders Urge Vigilance Even As Dorian Churns Away From Florida
Dorian now is a Category 4 hurricane, bearing down on the northwestern Bahamas en route toward Florida’s east coast.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami is cautioning that its meteorologists remain uncertain about whether Dorian will make a devastating direct strike on the state’s east coast or inflict a glancing blow. Some of the more reliable computer models are predicting a late turn northward that would have Dorian hugging the Florida coast.
“The ridge of high pressure that was expected to steer the hurricane directly into Florida is weaker than earlier anticipated,” said FPREN meteorologist Ray Hawthorne. “This has opened the door to a northward turn. There are still several reliable models that bring the hurricane close to the east coast and residents there should not let their guard down yet.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling on Floridians to remain vigilant.
“Even if it doesn’t directly strike Florida this is a big powerful storm. You’re still looking at really significant storm surge on the east coast of Florida. You’re looking at major flooding events in different parts of the state.”
DeSantis planned to tour the Orange County Emergency Operations Center later Saturday.
In Volusia County leaders are bracing for tropical storm conditions. “Volusia county can expect right now approx 40 -50 mph tropical storm force winds for 8-12 hours, and even potential longer, we could expect gusts up to 50 miles an hour,” said Volusia emergency manager Jim Judge. “We continue to monitor the system as it moves along the coast and hopefully offshore”
Volusia leaders say the new forecast prompted them to move back evacuation plans to Monday.
Because of the uncertainty, Brevard is one of two Florida counties to have issued mandatory evacuation orders. Martin County also is ordering some residents to evacuate. But DeSantis says he isn’t instituting one-way traffic flows or waiving toll fees yet.
“If the traffic becomes abnormal then we will take needed action to alleviate. However at this point we do not see any abnormal traffic on the roadways. So those options are on the table if need be can be exercised.”
In Brevard County officials say some residents should begin evacuating Sunday at 8 a.m. including:
Those who live on the barrier islands, including areas from Kennedy Space Center south to the south beaches and Merritt Island,
Those in mobile homes or manufactured housing,
Those in low-lying, flood-prone areas,
Those with special medical needs such as electrical dependence.
Brevard residents can dial 211 for more information. County spokesman Don Walker says the causeways to the barrier islands will not close before or during a storm, but “what the problem is with staying on the barrier island is that if you have an emergency, and we’ve got winds above 60 miles per hour, it’s very unsafe for high-profile vehicles like ambulances or fire trucks to cross the causeways.”
He says the county is working with public transportation should residents with special needs require assistance getting to shelters.
Shelters in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties will open Sunday.
Orlando International Airport will close Monday at 2 a.m. The Daytona Beach Airport will close after the last flights Sunday.
The Florida Department of Agriculture says oil tankers in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico are on standby and ready to resupply the state with fuel once it is safe enough after the storm to come to port.
Colleges and public schools are closed through at least Tuesday.