MIAMI, FL — While parts of Florida remain under a tropical storm watch along the east coast from Deerfield Beach in Broward County to Sebastian Inlet in Brevard County, a favorable shift in the expected track of Hurricane Dorian is good news for a tourist mecca. Officials at Orlando International Airport said they were reversing a decision to close the airport on Monday based on the likely course of the storm away from central Florida.

The tropical storm watch is likely to be expanded further north as Hurricane Dorian continues to spin its 150 mph winds as a major Category 4 storm. Two counties have issued mandatory evacuation orders, while six other counties have voluntary evacuations authorized.

The good news for the Sunshine State is that Dorian is likely to remain off the coast. Tropical storms pack sustained surface winds from 39 to 73 mph. The tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Orlando airline passengers should check with their airlines for specific flight information and schedules. Daytona Beach International Airport’s terminal still plans to close after its last flight departs Sunday night.

Dorian now also threatens parts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said early Saturday evening that the forecast may change yet again.

“They’ve actually moved the forecast slightly to the west — not a huge difference to the naked eye — but they’re starting to run models that bring it closer, or even onto Florida’s coast. That could produce life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds,” the governor said. “It’s still too early to determine exactly where that may go but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in Brevard County and were expected to begin on Sunday but have been postponed until Monday. Martin County had issued a partial mandatory evacuation order but it was rescinded on Saturday.

Voluntary evacuations were authorized in Glades County for residents with special needs. Hendry County had planned voluntary evacuations but is now holding off. Osceola County will open its voluntary evacuation shelters on Monday rather than Sunday as initially planned.

Palm Beach County has postponed plans to open general population evacuation shelters while St. Lucie county will open a special needs shelter and two general population shelters at 2 p.m. Sunday. Polk county had planned to open shelters on Sunday but announced that it will now hold off.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Robert Molleda with the National Weather Service in Miami warned earlier Saturday that Florida still may see hurricane conditions even if the storm remains off shore.

“Although the latest forecast keeps the center of the storm just off shore, there is still a risk — a substantial risk — for tropical storm force winds at least across most, if not all of South Florida, with even some hurricane force winds still possible, especially for Palm Beach County,” Molleda said at 2 p.m. Saturday.

If Dorian spins its hurricane-force winds onto Florida, they could be felt as early as Monday morning and linger into Tuesday evening, according to Molleda.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Saturday issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in his state and urged South Carolinians to prepare for the possibility of a strike by the dangerous storm.

“Given the strength and unpredictability of the storm, we must prepare for every possible scenario,” McMaster said. “State assets are being mobilized now and Team South Carolina is working around the clock to be ready, if necessary. We encourage all South Carolinians who may be impacted by Hurricane Dorian to be vigilant and prepare now. There is no reason for delay.”

Floridians continue to flock to grocery stores, hardware stores and gas stations as DeSantis urged his more than 21 million residents to remain vigilant despite Dorian’s favorable shift from earlier forecasts.

“Don’t make any assumptions. Remain vigilant and be prepared,” he urged. The governor’s tone began considerably more upbeat on Saturday morning than in recent days when the cone of uncertainty essentially washed over his entire peninsula.

A category 4 storm has the potential for catastrophic damage, the National Hurricane Center said. “Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”

Stores shelves have emptied out of water and other essentials in some counties as residents heeded advice to get ready for Dorian. The Rolling Stones bumped up their Miami concert date. Publix bakeries churned out hurricane-themed cakes and a celebrity chef’s charity prepped mobile food kitchens to feed Floridians in need.

Weather officials said hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center while tropical force winds extend outward up to 105 miles. A hurricane is ranked as a category 3 storm when its sustained winds are between 111 and 129 mph; a category 4 storm has winds of 130 to 156 mph and a category 5 storm packs winds greater than 156, the NCH says.

“Dorian is moving toward the west near 8 mph … and a slower westward motion should continue for the next day or two, followed by a gradual turn toward the northwest,” the National Hurricane Center said at 11 p.m. Saturday.

“On this track, the core of Dorian should be near or over portions of the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday, and move closer to the Florida east coast late Monday through Tuesday,” weather officials said at 11 p.m. Saturday.

Patch is tracking every move of Tropical Storm Dorian. Get all the updates on the storm by subscribing to Patch’s free breaking news alerts and daily newsletters.

The crew of a hurricane hunter aircraft released video of Dorian captured as they flew through the storm on Friday:

Walt Disney World Resort is operating under normal conditions but taking precautions, including canceling weekend sporting events and closing Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park on Sunday.

Airbnb has activated its Open Homes Program to help displaced residents and relief workers deployed to the southeast region impacted by Hurricane Dorian. The program connects hosts who are willing to provide free housing with displaced residents and disaster relief workers in the activation area. The program covers most of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and parts of Alabama.

Brightline announced that it will resume higher speed train service on Sunday with $5 fares and a limited schedule. The reduced schedule is available here.

Dorian’s ominous presence in the Atlantic has reinforced the need for additional hurricane evacuation routes throughout a state that is attracting new residents at a rate of 906 every day, a recent meeting on plans to build more toll roads in Florida highlighted. In all, Florida has five primary interstate highways, nine auxiliary interstates and 10 toll roads. Transportation planners say that’s insufficient for a mass evacuation of the state.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management urged residents who need to gas up vehicles to download the @GasBuddy app to track fuel availability in their community. The state is working with the fuel industry to supply gas stations statewide.


The Florida governor had previously warned Floridians to prepare for the possibility of a multi-day storm. He said 2,000 soldiers and airmen with the Florida National Guard would be activated by the end of Friday and another 2,000 would be activated on Saturday out of a total of the 12,000 available.

The mayor of Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populous county, urged residents on Saturday not to take down their hurricane shutters and to continue making preparations despite the positive news regarding the forecast.

“Even if we are now under less of a threat things can change quickly,” Gimenez cautioned, adding that the county has suspended the movement of residents with special needs. “We all need to prepare, to wait and to see. Just because some parts of Miami-Dade are out of the cone does not mean that we will not have hazardous weather.”

While it no longer appears that Dorian will make landfall in Florida, nothing is certain. “At this point, the only thing consistent about this storm has been its inconsistency,” observed Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s director of the Division of Emergency Management. The Florida governor expanded his state of emergency ahead of the storm to include all 67 counties ahead of the storm.

Patch is tracking every move of Tropical Storm Dorian. Get all the updates on the storm by subscribing to Patch’s free breaking news alerts and daily newsletters.

The governor urged Floridians to have seven days of food, medicine and water on hand and said it is likely that anyone affected by the storm will lose power as people lined up all over the state at Costco, Publix and other stores.

The Florida State University Seminoles lost a close game to Boise State 36-31 on Saturday after the game was moved to the Seminoles’ home field at Doak Campbell Stadium. The game was moved to Tallahassee from TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville because of storm concerns.

The Rolling Stones moved up their Miami concert scheduled for Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium to Friday night as a result of concerns over Dorian and a number of Florida schools and colleges announced plans to extend the Labor Day holiday.

During the past few days, the employees at Publix have seen their share of stressed-out customers scrambling to fill their shopping carts with bottled water and other hurricane supplies. To help relieve the stress — and elicit some smiles — bakery staff members have used their cake decorating skills to create Hurricane Dorian-themed cakes.

The storm was located about 310 miles east of West Palm Beach and about 125 miles east of Great Abaco Island with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and higher gusts as of 11 p.m. Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“Dorian is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale,” the National Hurricane Center said at 11 p.m. Saturday.

“Some fluctuations in intensity are likely, but Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days,” officials added.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the Northwestern Bahamas, excluding Andros Island. A Hurricane Watch was in effect for Andros Island.

“Since Dorian is forecast to slow down and turn northward as it approaches the coast, life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are still possible along portions of the Florida east coast by the early to middle part of next week,” the National Hurricane Center warned at 11 p.m. Saturday.

“There is an increasing risk of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina during the middle of next week,” The National Hurricane Center said at 11 p.m. Saturday.

Weather officials also noted that heavy rains capable of causing life-threatening flash floods are possible over coastal sections of the southeastern United States from Monday through Thursday.

Coastal sections of the Southeast United States from central Florida northward through the Carolinas could see with 4 to 8 inches of rain, with isolated amounts up to 12 inches possible in some areas. The northwestern Bahamas could see 10 to 15 inches of rain and as much as 25 inches in isolated areas. This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods, the NHC said at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Molleda urged Floridians to keep their hurricane shutters up in the event that the storm changes again.

President Donald Trump canceled his weekend trip to Poland and warned South Carolina residents to be prepared.

“Looking like our great South Carolina could get hit MUCH harder than first thought. Georgia and North Carolina also,” the president tweeted on Saturday morning. “It’s moving around and very hard to predict, except that it is one of the biggest and strongest (and really wide) that we have seen in decades. Be safe!”

The International Space Station released video of the storm as it churned over the Atlantic.

Celebrity chef Jose Andres tweeted that his charity has “multiple” food kitchens ready to respond “wherever a hot meal is needed” in Florida.

Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach posted a list of some of Florida’s memorable hurricanes since 2004.

Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that weather researchers now believe there will be more hurricanes in 2019 than previously expected.

The updated hurricane season outlook calls for 10 to 17 named storms, of which five to nine are expected to become hurricanes. Two to four of those could become major hurricanes, according to NOAA.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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