As Hurricane Dorian’s track was forecast Saturday morning to move eastward, local emergency management officials said it was looking better for our region.
Both Charlotte and Sarasota counties decided Saturday to demobilize their emergency operations, but are continuing to monitor the storm’s track.
Charlotte County’s Emergency Management Department moved from level 2 activation, which is partial activation of the emergency operations center, to a level 3 Saturday morning. With this change, the office is watching the storm but is operating as it typically does on a daily basis.
“We’re never fully out of the woods,” said Charlotte County Emergency Management Director, Patrick Fuller. However, if the storm continues to turn north, “we’re going to be clear.”
Meanwhile, Sarasota County Emergency Manager Ed McCrane said Saturday morning during a briefing streamed on Facebook that “the track forecast for this morning looks a lot better for our area” and he added “we may get away with very little effects.”
Still, McCrane said until Dorian makes its northern turn “we must remain vigilant” and watch for changes in its track.
Later that afternoon, he added that Sarasota County will transition into level 3 activation as well.
A level 1 would be full-scale activation of the Emergency Operations Center.
Charlotte and Sarasota counties issued local emergency declarations Friday, which lets local governments operate emergency management procedures and obtain funding if necessary.
Both emergency management directors said Saturday, though that they’re still watching Dorian very closely.
“It’s a great reminder to always be prepared,” Fuller continued. “It’s the time of year to have your kits in place.”
And McCrane noted Sept. 11 is the peak of Hurricane Season in Florida.
“Don’t let your guard down,” McCrane said Saturday afternoon. “Please take the time now, between now and the next storm, to be ready.”
“For Charlotte County residents, this is the best news,” said Charlotte County spokesperson Brian Gleason. “But we always need to be vigilant during hurricane season because it changes day by day.”
The storm is still several days away from potentially making landfall on the east coast, and is currently a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds as of early Saturday.
“Considering we went from three days ago to not being impacted, to yesterday thinking we might get a direct hit, to now not even having afternoon thunderstorms,” Gleason said. “By this time tomorrow, we could be talking about another storm.”
“The storm is still several days away,” National Weather Service meteorologist Austen Flannery said Saturday morning, with it being a “little too early” to say we are in the clear completely.
Hurricane Dorian’s movement, though, is slowing down, and might make its northeastern turn before it gets to Florida. But “the storm could hit anywhere within the cone,” Flannery said. “It’s not out of the question that it could make landfall in Florida.”
Later forecasts Saturday placed increasing risk along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina during the middle of next week, according to the National Weather Service.
If Dorian continues on its current projected path, area residents can expect the heaviest rainfall between Monday night and Tuesday night at up to three inches of rain, but higher amounts are possible, Flannery said.