The Latest: Dorian strengthens to Category 2 storm

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Tropical Weather

This Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 image provided by NASA shows a view of Hurricane Dorian from the International Space Station as it churned over the Atlantic Ocean north of Puerto Rico. Leaving mercifully little damage in its wake in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, Hurricane Dorian swirled toward the U.S., with forecasters warning it will draw energy from the warm, open waters as it closes in. (NASA via AP)

MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Dorian (all times local):

11:15 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian is now a Category 2 hurricane and is expected to continue strengthening over the weekend as it advances toward Florida.

The National Hurricane Center says in an 11 p.m. Thursday forecast that the storm has maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (169 kph), meaning it is just short of being a Category 3 major storm.

Forecasters expect Dorian to become a major hurricane Friday and make landfall on Florida's east coast on Monday night.

As of Thursday night, Dorian was about 295 miles (475 kilometers) east-northeast of the southeastern Bahamas.

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8:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump has posted a video on Twitter encouraging Florida residents to prepare for Hurricane Dorian as the government makes its own preparations.

In a video posted Thursday evening, Trump said Dorian initially appeared to be a small storm but has grown quickly over the past day.

Trump said: "It's looking like it could be an absolute monster."

As Dorian heads toward Florida's east coast, Trump says the government is preparing to send food and water to the affected areas. He says the storm could be comparable to Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in 1992.

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6:50 p.m.

Florida's largest power company says it has secured about 13,000 employees and additional personnel to work to restore powerlines and equipment damaged by Hurricane Dorian.

Florida Power and Light also said Thursday that it is working with utilities nationwide to send additional crews and equipment ahead of the landfall.

FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy says they're taking Hurricane Dorian seriously and have activated an emergency response plan in anticipation of its impact.

FPL serves about 10 million people in the state of Florida and operates more than 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers) of overhead power lines.

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5:50 p.m.

Georgia's governor is declaring a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Dorian for 12 counties nearest the state's coastline.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Thursday that frees up state resources for emergency preparations and response. It also prohibits price gouging for goods and services such as gasoline.

The National Hurricane Center predicts Dorian will come ashore during the Labor Day weekend as a powerful Category 4 hurricane. While the current forecast track predicts landfall in Florida, forecasters haven't ruled out a turn toward southeast Georgia.

Kemp's emergency declaration covers all 100 miles (160-kilometer) of the Georgia coast, an area that includes Savannah, as well as several neighboring counties to the west.

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5:35 p.m.

The tail end of Hurricane Dorian is unleashing heavy flooding along the eastern and southern coasts of Puerto Rico.

Cars, homes and gravestones in the southeast coastal town of Humacao became halfway submerged in water after officials say a river burst its banks amid heavy rains late Wednesday afternoon.

Flooding also has forced the closure of several roads in the southeast region.

The National Weather Service in San Juan has issued a flash flood warning for the area as well as for the nearby islands of Vieques and Culebra.

The heavy rains are expected to help ease a severe drought affecting the U.S. territory's south coast.

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5:35 p.m.

Florida resident James Wolfe won't be scrambling to get supplies before Hurricane Dorian hits.

Wolfe says he and his wife put up the hurricane shutters on their Vero Beach home Thursday afternoon.

The 72-year-old retired jeweler says he already has everything that he, his wife and their dog could possibly need: Cases of water, food, an electric generator and even some charcoal in the case he decides to grill. He plans on staying home throughout the storm.

Meanwhile, 51-year-old Lauren Harvey scoured the aisles of a nearby supermarket in search for non-perishable food items that could last her throughout the possible storm.

Harvey recently moved to Vero Beach from the Philadelphia-area. She says she is not sure what to expect and is preparing to spend her very first hurricane alone.

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5:20 p.m.

The projected path of Hurricane Dorian is creeping south as it approaches the eastern coast of Florida.

The National Hurricane Center says in a 5 p.m. Thursday forecast that Dorian's path remains essentially unchanged through the next two or three days, but meteorologists are now seeing the highest probabilities for hurricane force winds in Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach.

Fort Pierce has a 93% chance of tropical storm force winds by Tuesday afternoon and 48% chance of hurricane force. West Palm Beach has a 92% chance of tropical storm force winds and 42% for hurricane force winds by Tuesday afternoon.

Cocoa Beach has a 37% chance of experiencing hurricane force winds, and Fort Lauderdale has a 30% chance.

As of Thursday evening the Category 1 storm was about 330 miles (530 kilometers) east of the southeastern Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (137 kph).

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5:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump has canceled his trip to Poland as Hurricane Dorian barrels toward Florida.

Trump says it's "very important" for him to be in Washington to deal with the storm, adding, "Our highest priority is the safety and security of the American people in the path of the hurricane."

Trump had been scheduled to depart for Warsaw Saturday for a visit to commemorate the 80th anniversary of World War II. He says he'll be sending Vice President Mike Pence in his place.

He says he delivered the news to Polish President Andrzej Duda earlier Thursday and plans to reschedule the trip in the "near future."

He had already canceled the second stop of the trip Denmark after leaders there mocked his desire to purchase Greenland.

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4:05 p.m.

As Hurricane Dorian approaches Florida, Carnival Cruise Line says most of its ships are sticking to their itineraries, at least for now.

The company said Thursday that the Carnival Sunshine would visit Key West instead of Princess Cays on Saturday. It leaves Charleston on Thursday.

Carnival says no changes have been made yet in itineraries for several ships leaving Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Port Canaveral and Tampa over the next two days, although it is still evaluating the situation. The Liberty's visit Saturday to Nassau, Bahamas, will be shortened.

Some sailings planned for early next week could be affected if the storm prevents ships from returning to their original port.

Carnival promises another update Thursday night.

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3:40 p.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it's fully prepared to handle the response to Hurricane Dorian.

Associate Administrator Jeff Byard said Thursday that the hurricane is forecast to be a major storm that's expected to move inland and "create a lot of havoc with infrastructure, power and roads."

Byard says Florida residents need to be prepared for the storm and create emergency kits, if they don't have them already. He says the federal agency will have disaster assistance teams in place.

Byard said emergency management officials are already starting to mobilize and will move into areas hit by the storm.

The hurricane threatens to hit Florida's coast over Labor Day weekend. The National Hurricane Center says the Category 1 storm is expected to strengthen into a potentially catastrophic Cat 4 with winds of 130 mph (209 kph).

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1:30 p.m.

The Rolling Stones are again rescheduling a concert; this time because Hurricane Dorian is approaching the Florida coast.

Publicist Amal Mokhtar says that due to the weather forecast, a concert scheduled for Saturday in Miami Gardens will instead happen Friday night. All tickets will be honored for the new concert date but there will be no opening act.

The concert was originally scheduled for April but had to be rescheduled because of lead singer Mick Jagger's health issues.

It's also the second time this year that tropical weather has prompted the Rolling Stones to reschedule a concert in the Southeast. Last month, the band pushed a New Orleans concert back by a day as Tropical Storm Barry approached the area.

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1 p.m.

As Hurricane Dorian threatened Puerto Rico this week, Jose Santiago reached out to his adult daughters on the island, worried about how they'd weather the storm. But now they've dodged a direct hit, and his daughters are more worried about him.

Santiago joined moved to Orlando after Hurricane Maria ravaged the U.S. territory in 2017, part of an exodus of Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland. Florida now has more than 1.1 million Puerto Ricans, more than New York.

Living through Maria taught Santiago the importance of preparedness. He's bought a generator, canned food and water. And he's telling his daughters he'll be just fine.

Forecasts so far suggest Hurricane Dorian will be less powerful than Maria was. It's expected to make landfall on Monday anywhere from Key West to Georgia.

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12:45 p.m.

The threat Hurricane Dorian is posing for Florida's Space Coast has persuaded NASA to move its mobile launcher indoors.

Officials at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral decided to move the mobile launch platform for a new mega rocket under development into the Vehicle Assembly Building on Friday. They're also closing the visitor center on Sunday and Monday.

Forecasters said Dorian is expected to bulk up into a dangerous Category 3 hurricane and perhaps even reach a Category 4, with top sustained winds of 130 mph (209 kph) or more as it approaches the Florida coast.

Landfall is expected sometime Monday, but it's still highly uncertain just where the eye of the hurricane will strike. Models point to anywhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia, a 500-mile stretch reflecting a high degree of uncertainty.

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12 p.m.

Publix is Florida's largest grocery store chain and says it's gearing up for a rush of customers hoping to stock up on food, water and other supplies as Hurricane Dorian approaches.

Publix spokeswoman Nicole Krauss says preparations were well under way before Dorian. She says distribution centers are currently well stocked with bottled water and other necessities.

Krauss said many of the chain's stores have been equipped with emergency generators and a fleet of generators remains on standby for stores that could lose power during the storm.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian could hit the Florida coast over the weekend as a major hurricane.

Florida Gov. DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for counties that could be in the storm's path and urged people to have a week's worth of supplies on hand.

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11:25 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Dorian could potentially hit the U.S. coast as a powerful Category 4 storm.

Forecast models show Dorian could have maximum sustained winds as high as 130 mph (209 kph) as it approaches the Florida coast over the Labor Day weekend, putting it right at the threshold of Category 4 strength.

Florida Gov. DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for counties that could be in the storm's path and urged people to have a week's worth of supplies on hand.

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10:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Florida is "going to be totally ready" for Hurricane Dorian as it barrels toward the U.S. Southeast coast.

Trump says in an appearance on Brian Kilmeade's Fox News radio show that he spoke with Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday night and that, "He's all set."

He says: "We were ready in Puerto Rico and we're ready also in Florida."

Dorian is expected to grow into a potentially major Category 3 hurricane before it hits the U.S. mainland late Sunday or early Monday somewhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia.

Gov. DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for counties that could be in the storm's path and urged people to have a week's worth of supplies on hand.

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9:40 a.m.

Across much of Florida's east coast, residents are flocking to the grocery stores and gas stations, stocking up in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian, which threatens to hit over the Labor Day weekend.

There were lines at many gas stations in South Florida as people began filling gas cans and topping off their gas tanks.

Some residents using community Facebook groups provided updates on new shipments of water to restock the nearly empty shelves at local grocery stores.

On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the state and advised residents along the entire East Coast to monitor Dorian closely. He said every Floridian should have "seven days of supplies, including food, water and medicine" on hand.

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9:40 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian is posing an increasing menace to Florida as it pushes over open waters after doing limited damage in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian is expected to grow into a potentially devastating Category 3 hurricane before hitting the U.S. mainland late Sunday or early Monday somewhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia.

President Donald Trump tweeted a warning about the storm, adding that "it will be a very big Hurricane, perhaps one of the biggest!"

The Hurricane Center projects the storm could have winds of 125 mph (200 kph) by the time it reaches the mainland. Also imperiled are the Bahamas, with Dorian's forecast track running just to the north of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

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12 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian is moving over open waters after doing limited damage in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, though forecasters warn it is gaining strength and probably will grow into a dangerous storm while heading toward Florida's east coast.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said late Wednesday Dorian is expected to strengthen into a dangerous Category 3 hurricane as it stays well to the east of the southeastern and central Bahamas over the next two days. The forecast calls for the storm to pass near or over the northern Bahamas on Saturday and close in on Florida by Sunday afternoon.

The storm was a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday when it swirled through the islands of the northeastern Caribbean, causing power outages and flooding in places no major damage.