Dorian forecast to strengthen into a hurricane as it takes aim at Florida

Tropical Storm Dorian was about 60 miles southeast of St. Croix at 8 a.m. Aug. 28. The storm is forecast to make its way toward the east coast of Florida and make landfall as a hurricane sometime Monday morning.

Tropical Storm Dorian is becoming better organized as it makes its way toward the Virgin Islands or eastern portion of Puerto Rico, according to the National Hurricane Center. However, Dorian’s final destination remains uncertain, but is likely to be the east coast of Florida, north of Orlando, early Monday morning.

NHC continues to say there is little confidence in the long-term track forecast. The average five-day track error is about 200 miles.

The intensity forecast has been increased with Dorian now forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane in two days and perhaps a Category 2 before making landfall most likely along the eastern coast of Florida; however, uncertainty “remains higher than usual” in the long-range forecast. NHC also says some computer forecasting models show Dorian increasing in size by the time it nears the southeast United States.

Tropical storm conditions are expected in the U.S. and British Virgin Island and Puerto Rico today and are possible in portion of the Dominican Republic tonight and Thursday. Hurricane conditions are possible in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands today.

NHC says the threat of tropical storm or hurricane conditions, along with storm surge, have increased in the northwestern Bahamas and along parts of the east coast of Florida. Pinellas County remains in the forecast cone.

Dorian was located about 60 miles southeast of St. Croix at 8 a.m. Aug. 28. Maximum sustained winds were 60 mph. Movement was to the northwest at 13 mph. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center.

The National Weather Service in Ruskin says tropical storm conditions are likely in the Tampa Bay area, including Pinellas County, on Saturday night and Sunday. High chances of rain, 70%, are forecast beginning on Friday-Saturday with an 80% chance on Sunday and 60% on Labor Day.

Pinellas County officials are encouraging residents to finalize hurricane preparations not just for Dorian but because September is historically the most active month of the hurricane season.

Residents and businesses are urged to make sure they are following the three critical steps: Know your Risk, Make a Plan and Stay Informed. Registering for Alert Pinellas and downloading the Ready Pinellas app for iPhone and Android will help with the process.

Sunday, Sept. 1 marks the first day of National Preparedness Month, sponsored by FEMA to promote family and community disaster planning.

“It is important for everyone to be prepared in case our area is impacted by a hurricane this season,” said Cathie Perkins, Pinellas County Emergency Management Director. “This is the perfect time to look up your evacuation zone, get whatever supplies are needed to complete emergency Go Kits and Stay Kits and sign up for Alert Pinellas.”

The county’s free mobile application, Ready Pinellas, will help you create a personalized supply list to help you keep track of the supplies you need to finish a kit. You should gather enough supplies to last seven days.

Some essential items include:

• Water – at least 1 gallon of water per person per day

• Non-perishable food

• Non-electric can opener

• Medications and copies of prescriptions (you can get a 30-day refill once an Emergency Declaration is declared for Pinellas County.)

• Flashlight or lantern

• Battery-operated or hand-cranked radio

• Cell phone with charger, extra battery and solar charger

• Contacts in mobile device and in print for backup

• Extra batteries

• Cash

• Insect repellant

• Sunscreen

• Tarps

• First aid supplies

• Portable toilet

• Books, cards, board games

• Full tank of gas in vehicle

• Gas tank; extra gas if you have a generator

• Emergency Access Permit (for beach residents and businesses. Obtain one at city halls or online at pcsoweb.com/emergency-access-permit.)

For more information on disaster preparedness, visit the Pinellas County Emergency Management website at www.pinellascounty.org/emergency, or email to ema@pinellascounty.org. The county sends urgent safety notification through Alert Pinellas. Residents can sign up at www.pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas.