(CNN)Hurricane Dorian has a lot of warm water and time ahead of it, and it’s expected to use both to grow into a major cyclone with a good chance of slamming Florida’s Atlantic Coast by Labor Day.
Dorian, having swept across the British and US Virgin Islands and whipped Puerto Rico with rain Wednesday, was moving northwest in the Atlantic Thursday morning with sustained winds of up to 85 mph.Live updates: Hurricane Dorian intensifies as it heads toward US TRACK THE STORMBy Friday it should strengthen to a powerful Category 3 storm, smack the northern Bahamas on Sunday and likely crash somewhere along the Florida or Georgia coasts on Monday with sustained winds around 125 mph.Because it’s four days out, the range of potential landfall spots is vast — from the Florida Keys to southeast Georgia.Read More”It has a lot of time in very warm water (to strengthen),” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. “Not much shear, not much dry air, and a lot of time to gain strength.”The affected areas in the US will feel tropical-storm force winds — at least 39 mph — on Sunday. And the center could pause before it runs into land — potentially whipping cities with “inches and inches of (rain) an hour,” Myers said.”People have got to be ready before Sunday,” Ken Graham, director of national hurricane center, told CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday. Florida declares emergency for more than 25 countiesFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for 26 counties and urged all residents on the coast to get ready for the storm.”It’s important for Floridians on the East Coast to monitor this storm closely,” DeSantis said. “Every Florida resident should have seven days of supplies, including food, water and medicine, and should have a plan in case of disaster.” Photos: Bracing for Dorian Photos: Bracing for DorianDozens of Orange County residents fill sandbags at Blanchard Park in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday, August 28.Hide Caption 1 of 11 Photos: Bracing for DorianEmpty shelves are seen at a supermarket in Patillas, Puerto Rico, on August 28.Hide Caption 2 of 11 Photos: Bracing for DorianYa Mary Morales and Henry Sustache put plywood over the windows of their home in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, on August 28.Hide Caption 3 of 11 Photos: Bracing for DorianPeople stock up with groceries and water in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on August 28.Hide Caption 4 of 11 Photos: Bracing for DorianA satellite view of Dorian, taken by NASA at 12:50 p.m. ET on August 28.Hide Caption 5 of 11 Photos: Bracing for DorianWorkers prepare a store’s exterior in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on August 28.Hide Caption 6 of 11 Photos: Bracing for DorianCars line up for fuel at a gas station in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, August 27.Hide Caption 7 of 11 Photos: Bracing for DorianMen board up a shop’s windows in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, on August 27.Hide Caption 8 of 11 Photos: Bracing for DorianMunicipal employees clear debris in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on August 27.Hide Caption 9 of 11 Photos: Bracing for DorianResidents board up a storefront pharmacy in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Monday, August 26.Hide Caption 10 of 11 Photos: Bracing for DorianResidents stand in line at a grocery store in Bridgetown on August 26.Hide Caption 11 of 11Virgin Islands hardest hitDorian has cleared the Caribbean Sea, but not before lashing the British and US Virgin Islands — first as a tropical storm and then as a Category 1 hurricane — on Wednesday. Local authorities declared a state of emergency as trees toppled and power lines went down on the islands.And while the storm was strong, the response was swift. Restoration processes began around 4 p.m. local time in the St. Thomas and St. John districts, and about 25,000 power outages in St. Croix were restored around 7 p.m. local time Wednesday, Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Director of Communications Jean Greaux told CNN.”Within an hour of its passage, The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority mobilized crews to conduct a damage assessment. We immediately commenced restoration of service. Crews are now dispersed addressing isolated or pocket outages in a few locations,” Greaux said.Hurricane advisories have been discontinued for the island, with winds overnight Wednesday dropping below 25 mph and rainfall scattering as the storm moves away, said CNN meteorologist Rob Shackelford.Ya Mary Morales (L) and Henry Sustache put plywood over the windows of their home as they prepare for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian.Puerto Rico spared predicted damagePuerto Rico, still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017, expected the storm to exacerbate the existing damage to infrastructure. Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced on Monday declared a state of emergency for the island and urged people to prepare for the storm. Schools across Puerto Rico were closed Wednesday.She built a shelter after Hurricane Maria took her home. Now she worries Dorian will take that too“Thankfully, I’ve been preparing since May,” said Krystle Rivera, whose family has been stocking up on water, canned food and gas in anticipation of the hurricane season.One man died after falling from the roof of his house while cleaning a drain in preparation for the storm, Puerto Rico Public Safety Secretary Elmer Roman said.Otherwise, Dorian did not have as devastating an impact on the island as feared.