Dorian forecast to become a major hurricane by Sunday morning

Tropical Storm Dorian was about 25 miles southeast of St. Croix at 11 a.m. Aug. 28. The storm is forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane and make landfall perhaps along the northeast coast of Florida on Labor Day.

National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. advisory shows Tropical Storm Dorian strengthening into a major hurricane by Sunday morning.

“All indications are that by this Labor Day weekend, a powerful hurricane will be near the Florida or southeastern coast of the United States,” NHC says in its discussion notes.

NHC says only slow strengthening is expected as Dorian moves through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands today; however, when the storm reaches the western Atlantic, east of the Bahamas, forecasters say it will enter an favorable environment of low shear and warm waters, “resulting in a more marked intensification.”

Dorian is expected to strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane by Sunday morning.

The risk of dangerous storm surge and hurricane-force winds is increasing in the central and northwestern Bahamas and along the Florida east coast, although it is too soon to determine where these hazards will occur, NHC says. Residents in these areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place and not focus on the exact forecast track of Dorian's center.

Although the current forecast track shows Dorian is likely to make landfall along the eastern coast of Florida, north of Orlando, on Monday morning, NCH says to remember that the five-day track error is about 200 miles.

At 11 a.m. Aug. 28, Dorian was located 25 miles southeast of St. Croix. Maximum sustained winds were 70 mph. At category 1 hurricane has winds of 74 mph. Movement was to the northwest at 13 mph.

The National Weather Service in Ruskin says tropical storm conditions are likely in the Tampa Bay area, including Pinellas County, on Saturday night and Sunday. High chances of rain, 70%, are forecast beginning on Friday-Saturday with an 80% chance on Sunday and 60% on Labor Day.

Pinellas County officials are encouraging residents to finalize hurricane preparations not just for Dorian but because September is historically the most active month of the hurricane season.

Residents and businesses are urged to make sure they are following the three critical steps: Know your Risk, Make a Plan and Stay Informed. Registering for Alert Pinellas and downloading the Ready Pinellas app for iPhone and Android will help with the process.

Sunday, Sept. 1 marks the first day of National Preparedness Month, sponsored by FEMA to promote family and community disaster planning.

“It is important for everyone to be prepared in case our area is impacted by a hurricane this season,” said Cathie Perkins, Pinellas County Emergency Management Director. “This is the perfect time to look up your evacuation zone, get whatever supplies are needed to complete emergency Go Kits and Stay Kits and sign up for Alert Pinellas.”

The county’s free mobile application, Ready Pinellas, will help you create a personalized supply list to help you keep track of the supplies you need to finish a kit. You should gather enough supplies to last seven days.

Some essential items include:

• Water – at least 1 gallon of water per person per day

• Non-perishable food

• Non-electric can opener

• Medications and copies of prescriptions (you can get a 30-day refill once an Emergency Declaration is declared for Pinellas County.)

• Flashlight or lantern

• Battery-operated or hand-cranked radio

• Cell phone with charger, extra battery and solar charger

• Contacts in mobile device and in print for backup

• Extra batteries

• Cash

• Insect repellant

• Sunscreen

• Tarps

• First aid supplies

• Portable toilet

• Books, cards, board games

• Full tank of gas in vehicle

• Gas tank; extra gas if you have a generator

• Emergency Access Permit (for beach residents and businesses. Obtain one at city halls or online at pcsoweb.com/emergency-access-permit.)

For more information on disaster preparedness, visit the Pinellas County Emergency Management website at www.pinellascounty.org/emergency, or email to ema@pinellascounty.org. The county sends urgent safety notification through Alert Pinellas. Residents can sign up at www.pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas.

The city of Pinellas Park is opening a self-service sandbag site for resident only. Residents can get up to 10 sandbags each. They must show a water bill and/or valid driver’s license. Sandbags will be available at Helen Howarth Park, 6401 94th Ave. N. on Thursday, Aug. 29, and Friday, Aug. 30, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. For more information, call Public Works at 727-369-5617.