The Hurricane Hunters found hurricane-force winds in Dorian as they were departing the system earlier this afternoon. Since then visible satellite imagery along with radar data from Puerto Rico indicates the system continues to organize. A well-defined eye is now apparent on radar data and it has been partially apparent on satellite data over the last hour and a half. Hurricane Dorian is located 45 miles northwest of St. Thomas and is moving northwest around 14 MPH. This northwest movement will keep the worst of Dorian north/northeast of Puerto Rico.
Since Dorian has avoided the higher terrain of Puerto Rico the system has been able to organize today. As it moves northwest over the next two days it’ll enter a low-shear environment in conjunction with very warm sea surface temperatures. In short – Dorian is likely to significantly strengthen over the coming days. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows intensification into a major hurricane by Saturday. However, it is entirely possible that Dorian rapidly intensifies and becomes a major hurricane much sooner. Regardless – a major hurricane is expected in the Bahamas by the weekend – and is becoming more likely to pose a direct threat to Florida.
While confidence in the eventual location beyond five days is low, the hurricane may enter the northeastern Gulf of Mexico around Monday. That means a second landfall would eventually occur along the northern Gulf Coast. At this time, we are not anticipating direct impacts to Texas, but we will keep an eye out just in case. Those along the northern Gulf Coast (Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle) and the entire Florida Peninsula should keep a close eye on the forecasts this week.