Hurricane Dorian Heads for Florida's East Coast

Hurricane Dorian moves northwards past Puerto Rico (NOAA)

By The Maritime Executive 08-29-2019 01:25:45

Hurricane Maria has passed by Puerto Rico without inflicting significant harm, but the northwestern Bahamas and the east coast of Florida are in its path - and it is expected to strengthen significantly before its arrival. 

According to the latest predictions from NOAA's National Hurricane Center, tropical storm force winds may arrive in parts of eastern Florida as early as Saturday evening or Saturday night. The eye will likely reach the Florida coast on Monday as a major Category 4 hurricane, and the current forecast indicates that it could make landfall in the central part of the coast. However, NHC noted that its forecast track errors for Dorian at four days out have averaged 150 nm, meaning that the cone of uncertainty for the storm's arrival encompasses an area between the Florida Keys and the middle of the Georgia coastline. Because of differences among the various computer models of the storm's track, "it is too soon to specify where along the Florida east coast the greatest impacts could occur," NHC wrote. 

NHC warned interests in the storm's path to begin preparations for high winds, heavy rain and dangerous storm surge. Storm surge conditions could begin in parts of Florida as early as this weekend. Regardless of the exact track of Dorian, heavy rains are expected to occur over portions of the Bahamas, Florida, and elsewhere in the Southeast U.S. 

The northwestern Bahamas will be affected with hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge first, and a hurricane watch will likely be issued for this region soon, NHC said. 

In anticipation of tropical storm force winds, the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port has set port condition Whiskey for the Port of Jacksonville (Jaxport) and Fernandina. These facilities remain open, but ocean-going vessels and barges over 500 GT are expected to make plans to depart 24 hours before the arrival of high winds; if an affected vessel wishes to stay in port, it is required to submit a request and a mooring plan to the COTP. 

Port Condition Whiskey is already in effect for Port Canaveral, Florida.