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Sarasota County Emergency Management director Ed McCrane explains when to stay and shelter in place and when to go during a hurricane at a presentation in April. He said school shelters only give a small space to set up an air mattress or cot and other supplies for a 24-hour period during the storm.

SARASOTA — Sarasota County officials declared a local state of emergency Friday ahead of Hurricane Dorian's arrival. 

As the storm moves through the Atlantic, it is ramping up to a Category 2 hurricane, with 110 mph winds.

But the strengthening storm is forecast to reach Category 4 status once the storm hits Florida's East Coast.

Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane said residents can expect hurricane-force winds and heavy rain. However, he noted that storm surge does not pose a serious risk to the area. 

Some may want to flee from the storm's impact, and McCrane suggests making that decision sooner rather than later.

County and school district officials have yet to make a decision on opening area schools as shelters during the storm. But strong winds and potential flooding may present a threat to those living in mobile homes and low-lying areas. 

If an evacuation is called for, announcements will be posted on the county's website and social media sites. 

The number of bottled water cases, and other emergency supplies, have started to dwindle, and local grocery stores are scrambling to restock their shelves.

While McCrane urged residents to stock up on a week's worth of supplies, he noted that some are purchasing more than they need, causing stores to run low on the most sought-after supplies. 

Officials announced Sarasota County's permitting and utilities billing offices will close at noon Friday, along with the county's public libraries. 

Public schools, however, will operate as usual. The district has yet to announce any school closings. 

The Sarasota County Area Transit bus service will also run normally, but residents will see a modified schedule starting Saturday.

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