As weather forecasters keep a watchful eye on monster Hurricane Dorian, which is wreaking havoc about 150 miles off West Palm Beach, Florida, as a Category 5 storm, mandatory evacuations have been announced for Florida and the entire South Carolina coast.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered the mandatory evacuation for all those along the state’s coastline on Sept. 1 amid Dorian’s threat. The order, which covers about 830,000 people, goes into effect at noon Monday, when state troopers will begin reversing lanes so they all head inland on major coastal highways.
— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) September 1, 2019
“We can’t make everybody happy,” McMaster said. “But we believe we can keep everyone alive.”
The NHC, in an update at 7 p.m. on Sunday, said that the storm is forecast to get precariously near the southeastern coast of the United States after leaving the Bahamas where it is currently hammering the Abacos Islands with 185 mph sustained winds.
The mandatory evacuations in South Carolina are along these zones:
Colleton County Evacuation Zones A and B
Beaufort County Evacuation Zone A
Jasper County Evacuation Zone A
Central Coast Charleston County Evacuation Zones A, B, C
Dorchester County Evacuation Zone D
Berkeley County Evacuation Zones B, G
Northern Coast Horry County Evacuation Zone A
Georgetown County Evacuation Zone A
Evacuations in Florida
Authorities in Florida also ordered mandatory evacuations in some vulnerable coastal areas starting either Sunday or Monday from Palm Beach County north to at least the Daytona Beach area, and some counties to the north issued voluntary evacuation notices.
The Florida Emergency Management website posted an alert, saying that residents in some areas along the east coast should evacuate.
The following counties are under evacuations:
Martin County – Mandatory evacuation order for Zone A and Zone B are in effect. This includes Hutchinson Island, Jupiter Island, Sewall’s Point, low lying areas, and mobile and manufactured homes.
Palm Beach County – Mandatory evacuation order for Zone A and Zone B. Zone A includes mobile homes, sub-standard housing and low-lying areas prone to water intrusion. Zone B includes the barrier islands, land areas north and south of the Jupiter Inlet, and other surge-vulnerable areas south along the Intracoastal Waterway to the Broward County line.
Brevard County – Mandatory evacuation order is being issued at 5 p.m. today for Zone A, including all mobile and manufactured homes.
St. Lucie County – Mandatory evacuation order for residents on the barrier island (North and South Hutchinson Island), those living in low-lying coastal areas and mobile homes.
St. Johns County – Mandatory evacuation order is being issued at 8 a.m. on Monday, September 2 for Zone A and Zone B, which includes the entire cities of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach, and those living on waterfront property or in flood-prone areas.
Voluntary and phased evacuations have been issued in:
Osceola County – Voluntary/Phased
Glades County – Voluntary/Phased
Hendry County – Voluntary/Phased
Indian River County – Voluntary/Phased
Okeechobee County – Voluntary/Phased
Highlands County – Voluntary/Phased
DeSantis noted that the state should stay alert as there are forecast models that bring Dorian close to or even onto the Florida peninsula.
“That could produce life-threatening storm surge and hurricane force winds,” DeSantis said. “That cone of uncertainty still includes a lot of areas on the east coast of Florida and even into central and north Florida, so we are staying prepared and remaining vigilant.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned the state’s densely populated Atlantic coast: “We’re not out of the woods yet.”
He suspended tolls on the Florida Turnpike and other roads, including Alligator Alley, from Fort Lauderdale to Naples, to keep traffic flowing for evacuees.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Dorian is forecast to be 40 to 50 miles (64 to 80 kilometers) off the Florida with hurricane-force wind speeds extending about 35 miles (56 kilometers) to the west.
National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham urged residents not to bet on safety just because the specific forecast track has the storm just a bit offshore. Don’t focus on the track, he said, but the larger cone of possibility that includes landfall.
Complicating matters is that with every new forecast, “we keep nudging (Dorian’s track) a little bit to the left” which is closer to the Florida coast, Graham said.
Dorian is a powerful but small storm with hurricane force winds Sunday only extending 29 miles to the west, but they are expected to grow a bit. That makes forecasting its path delicate and difficult.
President Donald Trump already declared a state of emergency and was briefed about what he called a “monstrous” storm.
“We don’t know where it’s going to hit but we have an idea, probably a little bit different than the original course,” Trump said. “But it can change its course again and it can go back more toward Florida.”
The Miami Herald reported that President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, which is located in Palm Beach County, is included in the mandatory evacuation.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the state could see heavy rain, winds and floods.
The hurricane upended some Labor Day holiday weekend plans in the United States: Major airlines allowed travelers to change reservations without fees, big cruise lines rerouted their ships and Cumberland Island National Seashore off Georgia closed to visitors. Disney World and Orlando’s other resorts held off announcing any closings.
The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 mph (305 kph) winds. That storm did not make landfall at the strength.
Dorian now holds a tied a historical record as the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the Atlantic basin with the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane.
The Associated Press and Epoch Times writer Jack Phillips contributed to this report.