The National Hurricane Center Monday afternoon said Hurricane Dorian will form in the Caribbean Sea by Tuesday night, reverting to earlier predictions after saying it’d remain a storm until Thursday.
The Hurricane Center said early Monday that Dorian would remain a storm until just before making landfall near the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico Thursday morning. Now, the increasingly organizing storm is expected to become a hurricane just after barreling through the Lesser Antilles Islands of Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which are currently under tropical storm warnings. It’s expected to enter the Caribbean Sea as a storm Tuesday morning and become a hurricane by Tuesday night.
As of 2 p.m. Monday, Tropical Storm Dorian was 200 miles southeast of Barbados with winds nearing 70 mph. Storms become hurricanes once sustained winds reach 74 mph.
The Hurricane Center also updated the storms projected strength once it reaches the Bahamas on a path that has Florida in its sights.
If Dorian becomes a hurricane by Tuesday, it’d have almost two days in open water to strengthen before hitting land.
It’s still most likely to pass over the Dominican Republic Thursday where wind sheer and mountains can break it up. It was initially supposed to hit the Bahamas as a depression Friday, but is now likely arrive as a tropical storm. Forecasters also have a Hurricane Dorian on a more easterly path now, meaning it could hit Puerto Rico instead, or miss landfall altogether before entering the Bahamas.
Forecasters said too many “what ifs” still remain to determine the storm’s future strength and path, particularly with how it might impact Florida, but it’s important to watch as it develops. Current forecasts, however, indicate a south Florida impact as a tropical storm to be more likely.
“We’re just telling people to keep an eye on it over the next five to seven days,” Weather Service forecaster John McMichael said. “Right now it’s too far out to tell if it will survive its trek over the Caribbean.”
Dorian formed into a tropical storm, the fourth of the season, on Saturday. It outpaced a low-pressure system that moved up the Florida coast over the weekend and is now almost 300 miles off the coast of North Carolina. The system’s center moved over southeast Florida but then pushed out into the Atlantic as it headed north. That system is still highly likely to form into a tropical cyclone within two days but should keep moving east into the Atlantic.
Dorian would become the second hurricane of the season, following Barry which hit Louisiana as a category 1 storm in July.
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