Central Florida braced for Hurricane Dorian’s impending arrival as the storm stalled over the Bahamas on Monday.
The hurricane, a Category 4, was causing terror, destruction and mass flooding on the islands with 145 mph winds. The prime minister reported that at least five people had died.
Shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, Dorian was located about 105 miles west of West Palm Beach. The storm was expected to start a slow west to westward motion sometime overnight and into early Tuesday morning as the eye and high winds finally pull away from the Bahamas.
The latest update has Dorian moving slightly further to the east, but residents are being urged to stay vigilant, as the storm is forecast to be east of Central Florida sometime Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the speed it gains in the open Atlantic waters. By that time, it is projected to be a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds, which means some areas of Central Florida may feel tropical storm-force winds.
On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Floridians to guard against “storm fatigue” and pay attention to updated forecasts, alerts, warnings and possible evacuation orders.
“This has been frustrating, I know, for a lot of people because it seems like we’ve been talking about this a long time,” the governor said. “But we are in a situation where the storm is stalling very close to our coast. It is going to make a move, and the movement that it makes is going to have a lot of impacts on Floridians.”
Meanwhile, in Marion County, a shelter for special needs residents opened Monday at 2 p.m. at West Port High School. Three other shelters at Fort McCoy School, North Marion Middle School and Lake Weir High School were slated to be opened on Tuesday at noon.
Registered sex offenders were told they aren’t allowed at any of the shelters and instead are being instructed to go to the Marion County Jail Visitation Center.
Marion County government offices, as well as those in Ocala, Belleview and Dunnellon, will be open Tuesday and reassessed for Wednesday. Marion County Sheriff’s district offices in Salt Springs, Forest Corners, Ocklawaha and Silver Springs Shores will be closed Wednesday.