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FIRST ALERT: Cat. 4 Hurricane Dorian strengthens slightly late Friday night

Updated: Aug. 30, 2019 at 11:44 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Category 4 Hurricane Dorian strengthened slightly late Friday night as it continues towards the U.S. mainland.

The late Friday night update showed Dorian with now 140 mph maximum sustained winds, up from 130 mph winds, and about 545 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

It’s moving west-northwest at 10 mph.

Model tracks now show Dorian targeting the Florida coast then possibly moving north to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts.

How close Dorian will get to South Carolina is still too early to tell, according to Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh.

“It will be up this way not as a Category 4 Hurricane, but in one form or another but it’s still way too far to tell what the exact impacts will be,” Walsh said.

As of late Friday night, the hurricane is as powerful as Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and odds for impacts in the Lowcountry are increasing.

The latest forecast track models show that Dorian is expected to come up on the coast of the southeastern United States coast in the middle of next week.

On Saturday, it’s expected to have 150 mph winds.

“Getting to about 156 mph winds is a Category 5 hurricane,” Walsh said."We’re going to watch that carefully."

It maintains a Category 4 status towards the Florida coast, then we start to see it weaken a little bit.

Some forecast models show that as we head into Tuesday Dorian is along the coast of Florida and may not even make landfall.

“It appears that it’s going to go up the U.S. east coast riding up the coast of Florida,” Walsh said.

And on Wednesday it’s anticipated to be just to the south of Brunswick, Georgia as a 105 mph Category 2 Hurricane, then stays to the southeast of Charleston.

The area of high pressure that is controlling the direction of Dorian looks like it will be weakening thanks to a trough in the north, opening up a few scenarios including Dorian heading to the west of South Carolina, moving closely along the coast of the state, or heading out to sea.

“Heading out of the sea is not out of the question, but the chances are still a little lower compared to the latter two directions,” Walsh said. “But again, this is a fluid situation.”

Possible effects for the Lowcountry include rain, flooding and wind, and will all depend on how close the center of Dorian gets to us.

In the meantime, forecasters say swells are likely to begin affecting the southeastern United States coast during the next few days.

These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions as Dorian makes a slow approach to the US mainland.

At 11 p.m., the center of Hurricane Dorian was located near latitude 25.5 North, longitude 71.4 West.

Dorian is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph (17 km/h).

“A slower west-northwestward to westward motion should begin tonight and continue into early next week,” National Hurricane Center officials said late Friday night."On this track, the core of Dorian should move over the Atlantic well north of the southeastern and central Bahamas tonight and tomorrow, be near or over the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday, and be near the Florida east coast late Monday."

Forecasters say some additional strengthening is possible tonight and Saturday.

According to NHS officials say although fluctuations in intensity are possible early next week, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles (45 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 km).

A prolonged period of storm surge, high winds, and rainfall is possible in portions of Florida into next week, including the possibility of hurricane-force winds over inland portions of the Florida peninsula.

“Heavy rains, capable of life threatening flash floods, are expected over portions of the Bahamas and coastal sections of the southeastern United States this weekend through much of next week,” NHC officials said.

Click here to download the free Live 5 News and First Alert Weather apps where you can track Dorian as it moves closer to the U.S.

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