Hurricane Dorian Has Mar-a-Lago In Its Sights
August 30, 2019
By Mark Sumner
Overnight, the U.S. and European models projecting the future course of Hurricane Dorian came into closer alignment. As of Friday morning, both expect the storm to blow up in the next 24 hours, moving through Category 2 on the way to a 130 mph+ Category 4 storm. Both expect the storm to make landfall on Monday evening, with a projected landfall near West Palm Beach. Exactly what happens then is still in doubt. The European model has the storm hugging the coast, sliding north to sweep the beaches for miles. The U.S. model has the storm tracking more inland, passing over Orlando’s theme-park country, still packing hurricane-strength storms. And while these scenarios do include the storm paying a visit to Trump’s best-known Florida property, there’s no way the damage is limited to just those overpriced links. The current models warn that this could be a bad one.
The first place genuinely under the gun isn’t Florida, but the Bahamas, with Freeport directly in the middle of current projections and set to receive the storm as a solid Category 4 on Monday morning. The timing and direction of the storm’s arrival are leading to projections of a storm surge 10-15 feet greater than normal high tides. Which is pretty extreme for islands where 15 feet is practically a mountain.
However, that crossing is expected to scrub only about 10 mph from the storm before it smacks into Florida overnight, bringing intense rain and a potentially large storm surge. The National Hurricane Center is calling for rainfall totals exceeding 6 inches for all of eastern Florida above Miami. Those areas in the course of the storm can expect 12 inches or more. Tropical storm force winds can be expected to arrive in Florida on Sunday morning along with high, dangerous swells and rip tides.
Neither the time nor the direction of Dorian is quite as nailed down as they are for most storms at this point. That’s in part because it’s moving so slowly, progressing to the west-northwest at just 12 mph. Also, the storm is currently quite small in extent, if not in force. Both of those things make it more easily perturbed. The fact that the storm is expected to take a full 24 hours to go from Freeport to West Palm Beach is a measure of just how it is creeping toward the coast.
There is still the chance that Dorian could arc to the north and skirt the coast completely. Or cross directly over southern Florida and enter the Gulf. But both of those possibilities seem increasingly unlikely as of Friday morning. The models suggest a storm that’s going to grow, move west, and strike Florida mid-peninsula before turning north.
The storm’s course represents a threat to some of Florida’s most iconic landmarks—from Disneyland to Kennedy Space Center—and also means that it will be threatening an extensive section of the coast, much of it containing a large percentage of construction that pre-dates the post-Hurricane Andrew construction guidelines.
It’s too early to accurately forecast storm surge along the Florida coast or map areas of potential flooding from surge or projected rainfall. But it’s not too early to repeat the advice that, should you be in the region and have the opportunity to leave, you should do so as soon as possible. Should you have no other choice but to stay in the region, check out your local shelter options now.
Mar-a-Lago is actually located on a barrier island separated from the mainland by a half-mile channel. It, and other properties along these islands, will be the first to receive the winds and surge.
Posted with Permission