Floridians breathed a guarded sigh of relief Saturday as it appeared the Sunshine State may be getting ready to dodge a major bullet with Hurricane Dorian.
The latest projection for the Category 4 hurricane shows it turning north and remaining in the Atlantic Ocean as it skirts the east coast of Florida. That scenario would still result in some potentially high winds and a few inches rain for The Villages and the surrounding tri-county area, but nothing like the earlier predictions when the storm was forecast to either come ashore near Daytona Beach and blast the local area or roar into the Sunshine State near Vero Beach/Fort Pierce, turn north and move up the center of Florida.
Forecasters, however, are still reminding area residents that the projections for Dorian’s path are still quite fluid and could change in a moment’s notice. And at the very least, they say there’s a good chance of tropical storm-force winds hitting the area as the storm roars north and possibly targets the Carolinas for landfall.
Dorian is expected to lash the Bahamas sometime Sunday, where some computer models have it stalling and dumping as much as 50 inches of rain before moving away from the islands. Residents there are being warned of storm surges that could be 15 feet above normal tide level with large and destructive waves.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday encouraged Floridians to continue to keep a close eye on Hurricane Dorian, saying the state is far from being out of danger. While he said the narrowing of the cone of uncertainty for the hurricane’s path will help with deploying resources, he reminded residents that there’s still a strong possibility of high winds, rain and coastal flooding – even if the storm remains offshore.
“I would remind people, as you’re looking at these forecasts, a bump in one direction or the other could have really significant ramifications in terms of impact,” he said. “If it bumps further east, that obviously is positive. If it bumps just a little west, then you’re looking at really, really significant impacts.”
DeSantis said he spoke with President Trump and the state continues to have his full support. The president met with FEMA officials on Saturday at Camp David to discuss the response to the hurricane and is being briefed hourly on the storm.
Likewise, DeSantis vowed to continue monitoring Dorian closely over the next several days. And he encouraged anyone living in areas in the storm’s cone of uncertainty to remain prepared for a possible worst-case scenario.
“There is still a significant chance of a strike on the state of Florida,” he said.
Locally, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, in its capacity as an emergency management agency, said the latest predictions are for the county to receive 3-4 inches of rain as the storm moves up the coast – a far cry from the 20-inch prediction the county was facing a few days ago. There are no plans to open shelters, but the resources are in place to do so quickly, officials say.
In Marion County, sandbag locations will remain open through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Bags, sand, and shovels are provided free. County residents can pick up their sandbags at:
- Belleview Sports Complex, 6501 SE 107th St., Belleview;
- Dunnellon City Complex, 11924 Bostick Street, Dunnellon;
- Wrigley Field, 405 County Road E 316, Citra;
- East Marion Sports Complex – 14445 NE 14th Street Road, Silver Springs
Ocala residents can get sandbags at:
- Reilly Arts Center, 500 NE 9th St., Ocala;
- Ed Crosky Recreation Center, 1510 NW Fourth St., Ocala.
The City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department also announced that all city parks and splash pads will be open and maintain normal hours on Sunday, Sept. 1.