Florida Braces as Hurricane Dorian Strengthens to Category 4: Drivers Abandon Cars at Gas Stations, Fuel Runs Out and Supermarket Shelves Are Emptied as 10 Million People in the Cross-hairs Prepare for Storm That Could Be a Category 5 by Labor Day

Forecasters upgraded Hurricane Dorian to an ‘extremely dangerous’ Category 4 storm on Friday night as it has ‘gained new strength’ in recent hours.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami claims Dorian, which powered toward Florida with increasing fury Friday, has maximum sustained winds near 130 mph.

It said  in an updated statement at 8:30 p.m. EDT Friday that hurricane hunter aircraft detected the change in strength recently.

The storm is centered about 400 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas. Some of the more reliable computer models predicted a turn northward that would have Dorian hug the coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

‘There is hope,’ Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said.

The faint, encouraging signs came at the end of a day in which Dorian seemed to get scarier with each forecast update. It strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane, and there were fears it could prove to be the most powerful hurricane to hit Florida’s east coast in nearly 30 years.

Some forecasters say there is a chance the storm will become the highest classification on the scale because Dorian has now developed an eye.

‘Hurricane #Dorian has developed an eye…Expecting it to become a major hurricane today,’ said meteorologist Ryan Maue on Twitter on Friday. ‘Nothing currently stopping storm from reaching Category 5. There I said it.’

KRQE meteorologist Christopher Nunley added: ‘Hurricane Dorian developing an eye. Major hurricane likely today. Wouldn’t be surprised if Dorian intensifies into a Category 5 over the weekend. Florida, take this seriously, this is a life threatening hurricane.’

Dorian is becoming more powerful as it passes the warm waters off of Florida’s coast, and maximum sustained winds increased Friday morning to near 110 mph.

As of 8am on Friday, Dorian was about 260 miles east-northeast of the southern Bahamas. On Friday afternoon, the hurricane became a classified as a major Category 3 hurricane.

As many as 10 million people will be caught in the crosshairs when it makes landfall in the US.

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Source: Daily Mail