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Hurricane Dorian forecast to reach Florida as a Category 4 storm on Labor Day

CNN logo CNN 8/29/2019 By Jason Hanna, Madeline Holcombe and Paul P. Murphy, CNN
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Hurricane Dorian is now forecast to be a Category 4 storm -- with sustained winds of around 130 mph -- when it makes its expected landfall in the US on Monday, likely somewhere along Florida's Atlantic coast, the National Hurricane Center says.

Dorian, having swept across the British and US Virgin Islands and whipped Puerto Rico with rain Wednesday, was moving northwest in the Atlantic Thursday morning with sustained winds of up to 85 mph. 

Warm waters are expected to strengthen the storm over the next few days. It's on track to smack Grand Bahama island on Sunday and likely crash somewhere along the Florida or Georgia coasts around Monday morning. 

Storm Tracker: Click Here to Follow Dorian's Path

Because it's four days out, the range of potential landfall spots is vast -- from the Florida Keys to southeast Georgia. And the center may pause at sea shortly before landfall -- leaving its outer bands to drench much of Florida with lots of rain, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

"That's ... heavy rain potential," Myers said. "This will not be a compact storm when it gets there."

The affected areas in the US will feel tropical-storm force winds -- at least 39 mph -- as early as Saturday evening

© CNN Weather

"People have got to be ready before Sunday," Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, told CNN's "New Day" on Thursday.

Floridians are lining up for gas and food

Officials including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have urged people to have seven days of food and medicine available -- and coastal residents already are stripping store shelves bare with Dorian in mind.

Plenty of people also were stocking up on fuel Thursday along Florida's Atlantic coast. That included Arthur Sanders, who waited in a long line to get gas in Port St. Lucie. 

a screen shot of a computer: A satellite image shows Hurricane Dorian shortly after 11 a.m. ET Thursday. © CNN A satellite image shows Hurricane Dorian shortly after 11 a.m. ET Thursday.

"They were directing traffic and had part of the parking lot blocked off," Sanders said.

In Port Orange, 40 miles northeast of Orlando, Brooke Koontz found shelves of bread and water nearly empty at a Walmart on Wednesday. There were also slim pickings among canned goods, toiletries and bananas, too.

Thankfully, soon after she arrived, employees brought out a pallet of water.

"It was gone in seconds," she told CNN. "People were trying to race."

Long lines and low supplies have been seen at several stores in the Miami area, CNN affiliate WSVN reported.

States of emergency have been declared in more than 25 Florida counties. Numerous officials are urging residents to get ready.

"Get water, get gas, get cash out of the ATMs," West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James said on CNN Thursday. "The more we hear about this storm, it sounds like a serious one."

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp told residents of his state to keep their eyes on Dorian, too.

"You need to start preparing now if you're in the coastal communities, for sure," he told reporters in Atlanta on Wednesday.

Airlines, the military and athletes are adjusting

Major airlines are allowing some passengers to re-book certain flights ahead of Hurricane Dorian, including Delta, American and Southwest.

The US Navy said it is moving more than 40 planes from Jacksonville to bases in Michigan, Ohio and Texas on Thursday, ensuring Dorian won't reach them.

Florida State University had been scheduled to play its season-opening game off campus, in Jacksonville near the Atlantic coast. But because Dorian will be approaching, the game has been moved to FSU's normal home field in Tallahassee, further inland.

Because Dorian could impact Florida's Kennedy Space Center, NASA has said it will have a crawler-transporter move NASA's mobile launcher Friday from launch pad 39B to the Vehicle Assembly Building about 3.5 miles away. The launcher was being tested on the pad in anticipation of future Space Launch System missions.

Dorian has cleared the Caribbean Sea, but not before lashing the British and US Virgin Islands -- first as a tropical storm and then as a Category 1 hurricane -- on Wednesday.

Puerto Rico, still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017, expected the storm to exacerbate the existing damage to infrastructure, but the island was largely spared.

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