Hurricane Dorian is now, officially, a major storm.
The National Hurricane Center, in its 2 p.m. ET update, said the storm’s sustained winds had hit 115 mph. That makes it a Category 3 storm on the Saffir–Simpson scale. The storm is expected to become a Category 4 storm, with winds exceeding 130 mph by the time it hits Florida late Monday.
Officials, in the update, said Dorian is “an extremely dangerous” storm that “poses a significant threat to Florida and the Northwestern Bahamas.”
The latest update suggests Dorian will hit Florida Monday night, though hurricane force winds will be felt long before that. As of midday Friday, those winds were extending 25 miles from the center of the storm.
“What is especially concerning about Dorian is the extremely slow motion of a major hurricane that is expected near or over densely populated areas of Florida,” said Dr. Rick Knabb, The Weather Channel’s hurricane expert. “This would lead to a prolonged period – perhaps a day or more – of hurricane-force winds, storm surge, and inland flooding, making all of these hazards even more life-threatening and damaging.”
The latest models show the storm hitting South Florida. The West Palm Beach area, at present, seems most at risk, but the model is still wide for that far a time out. (If it does hit that area, though, the storm could potentially impact Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, the so-called “Winter White House“.) From there, it’s expected to crawl up through Central Florida. That’s bound to disappoint some Disney fans, who traveled to the state for the opening weekend of the Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge attraction.
Dorian is expected to move northward, retaining hurricane strength for at least 24 hours.
Before it gets to Florida, though, Dorian’s first target appears to be the Bahamas. A hurricane watch/warning has been issued for the northwestern Bahamas. The NHC is warning people in both that area and coastal sections of the Southeastern United States to expect 6 to 12 inches of rain, with isolated areas getting up to 18 inches.
Related: How Hurricane Dorian could cost Disney $60 to $90 million