JACKSONVILLE — Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a statewide state of emergency Wednesday as Hurricane Dorian continues to track toward the Atlantic coast of Florida.
Dorian, currently a Category 1 hurricane, is forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane east of the Bahamas on Friday or Saturday and threaten the Atlantic coast during the latter part of the Labor Day weekend.
The entire Atlantic coast of Florida is still in the cone of uncertainty of latest projections, released Thursday morning at 5 a.m. with the center moving more south closer to Orlando. It is projected to make landfall Monday or Tuesday with sustained winds of more than 110 miles per hour.
Tropical storm force winds are forecast to arrive in the Suwannee Valley as early as Sunday morning.
According to the Suwannee County Sheriff's Office following an 8 a.m. conference call with the National Weather Service, the area is predicted to receive between 1.5 to 2 inches of rain during the storm, but localized totals of 10 to 15 inches cannot be ruled out in the Suwannee Valley.
The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners have called a special meeting for Thursday at 10 a.m. at the county’s Emergency Operations Center to consider declaring a local state of emergency. It was originally scheduled for Friday afternoon.
That would follow DeSantis’ statewide declaration, which was made to help ensure that local and state governments have the time and resources to prepare for the storm.
The State Emergency Operations Center activated to a Level 2 on Thursday morning, enhancing the coordination between federal, state and local emergency management agencies.
“I am declaring a state of emergency to ensure Florida is fully prepared for Hurricane Dorian,” DeSantis said in a release. “It’s important for Floridians on the East Coast to monitor this storm closely. Every Florida resident should have seven days of supplies, including food, water and medicine, and should have a plan in case of disaster. I will continue to monitor Hurricane Dorian closely with emergency management officials. The state stands ready to support all counties along the coast as they prepare.”
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz added: “Because of the uncertainty in the track of this storm, every resident along the East Coast needs to be ready.”