Hurricane Dorian is no longer predicted to make landfall in Florida, but is instead, heading further north to Georgia and the Carolinas.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Saturday that there had been a “notable change overnight to the forecast of Dorian after Tuesday”.
It said the new forecast has the storm skirting the coast along Georgia, with the chance of landfall still a threat on Wednesday and continuing up to South Carolina early on Thursday.
In a Tweet, Donald Trump urged residents there to “keep safe”.
Looking like our great South Carolina could get hit MUCH harder than first thought. Georgia and North Carolina also. It’s moving around and very hard to predict, except that it is one of the biggest and strongest (and really wide) that we have seen in decades. Be safe!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2019
The NHC is still urging Floridians to be prepared as the state remained in the “cone of uncertainty” – meaning there was still a chance of a life-threatening storm surge” and “devastating hurricane-force winds”.
Coastal parts of the southeastern US could get up to 12 inches (30cm) of rain, with 18 inches (46cm) in some places – triggering life-threatening flash floods.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned residents in a briefing on Saturday not to let their guard down, insisting: “Don’t make any assumptions, remain vigilant and be prepared.”
He added: “Looking at these forecasts, a bump in one direction or the other could have really significant ramifications in terms of impact.
“If it bumps further east, that obviously is positive. If it bumps just a little west, then you’re looking at really, really significant impacts.
“Understand, even if it doesn’t directly strike Florida, this is a big, powerful storm.
“You’re still looking at really significant storm surge on the east coast of Florida, you’re looking at major flooding events in different parts of the state.”
Residents bought bottled water, plywood and other supplies as fast as they could be restocked on Friday, with some petrol stations running out of fuel.
Amber Hunter, assistant manager at Cape Canaveral’s ACE Handiman hardware store said: “They’re buying everything and anything that applies to a hurricane, flashlights, batteries, generators.”
Donald Trump’s prized Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, on the wealthy barrier island of Palm Beach – which is currently closed for the summer – was predicted to be directly in Dorian’s path.
The US president told reporters that “Mar-a-Lago can handle itself” and that he was more worried about Florida.
On Friday, the US president declared a state of emergency in The Sunshine State and authorised the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to co-ordinate disaster-relief efforts.
Labor Day weekend plans were amended, major airlines began allowing travellers to change their reservations without fees and the big cruise lines started rerouting their ships.
Disney World and Orlando’s other resorts found themselves in the storm’s projected path, but due to the uncertainty of whether it would hit, it held off announcing any closures – and Florida authorities ordered no immediate mass evacuations.
The NHC, based in Miami, has described the hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 145 mph as “extremely dangerous”.
It says the core of Dorian is expected to be near or over the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday and near the Florida east coast late Monday.
Tourists scrambled to leave the Bahamas on Friday as Dorian approached its northwestern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, eager to take off before the international airport shut down at 10pm.
Prime minister of the Bahamas Hubert Minnis said at a news conference: “Do not be foolish and try to brave out this hurricane. The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life.”
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