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Despite Shift in Forecast, Effects from Major Hurricane Dorian Still Expected in Florida

A significant change in the weather pattern that is steering Dorian may lessen the impacts of the hurricane over parts of the state. Forecasters warn; however, that heavy rain, strong winds, and coastal flooding are still likely along the east coast of Florida even if the hurricane does not make landfall. High surf and rip currents are expected this weekend into early next week.

The storm rapidly intensified Friday evening into an extremely powerful category 4 hurricane. Seasonably warm ocean temperatures and light wind shear — both of which are normally needed for intense hurricanes — are expected to fuel the storm for several more days.

A ridge of high pressure that is steering the Dorian is forecast to keep pushing it westward this weekend toward the northwestern Bahamas. The ridge; however, is now forecast to be much weaker by Monday, which will cause it to slow or stall just offshore of Florida Monday. A turn toward the north is likely Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tropical storm force winds are expected to reach parts of South Florida and the Space Coast on Monday, gradually spreading toward Daytona Beach and the First Coast on Tuesday. Hurricane force winds are becoming less likely, but are still possible if the storm takes a closer track to Florida.

Coastal flooding is likely, regardless of how close Dorian gets to the state. The new moon is causing high astronomical tides during the times of high tide. The National Weather Service in Jacksonville has issued Coastal Flood Advisories. Tidal departures may reach 1 to 2 feet above normal this weekend.

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Ray Hawthorne