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Brace for impact

Lazaro Aleman:

Greene Publishing, Inc.

With Hurricane Dorian potentially poised to strike Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency late Wednesday, Aug. 28, thereby ensuring that state and local government agencies had ample time, resources and flexibility to prepare for the eventuality of the storm making landfall on the peninsula.

"Today, I am declaring a state of emergency to ensure Florida is fully prepared for Hurricane Dorian," DeSantis said. "It's important for Floridians on the East Coast to monitor this storm closely. Every Florida resident should have seven days of supplies, including food, water and medicine, and should have a plan in case of disaster. The state stands ready to support all counties along the coast as they prepare."

On Thursday morning, Aug. 29, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) put Hurricane Dorian about 150 miles north northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and about 425 miles east southeast of the southeastern Bahamas. The storm was tracking northwest at 13 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. The probable path of the storm put the center making possible landfall sometime on Monday or Tuesday, with the cone of uncertainty extending near Miami, Fla., to near Savannah, Ga.

Per the NHC's latest advisory, hurricane-force winds extended outward from the center up to 15 miles, and tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 90 miles.

Dorian was forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane during the next couple of days as it tracks over the warm waters of the Atlantic, with some computer models showing an increased chance of it crossing the Florida peninsula and entering the Gulf.

Because the storm missed the high terrains of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, which would have weakened it, experts forecast that the storm will possibly intensify into a Category 4 before making landfall.

No hurricane watches or warnings were in effect as of 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, according to the NHC advisory.

A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are possible within 24 hours. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the 24-hour period.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service's (NWS) forecast for the Big Bend area called for possible showers and thunderstorms during the weekend and into next week, dependent on Dorian's track.

"Heavy and continuous rainfall continues to be the highest threat," the NWS advisory stated.

It urged residents to prepare hurricane kits and continue to monitor the storm forecasts.

The American Automobile Association (AAA), for its part, was advising Labor Day travelers to be prepared to adjust their plans based on the advice from local authorities.

"Despite where the storm makes landfall, it's possible that its effects could be felt throughout much of the state," AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said. "The potential of strong winds, heavy downpours and flooding would create dangerous conditions on Florida roadways."

Dorian also, Jenkins added, had the potential to cause flight cancellations and altered cruise itineraries. He advised that travelers monitor weather reports and respond appropriately.

In a related story, Tropical Depression Erin was in the northern Atlantic, having bypassed the eastern United States but set to strike southeastern Canada with rain and gusty winds by week's end.

Forecasters downgraded Erin to a tropical depression on Wednesday, after the storm's northeastward track had spared most of the Eastern Seaboard of rainfall. Rough surf and rip currents, however, were forecast to batter coastal communities from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to New England and the Atlantic Canada in the coming days.

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