Hurricane Dorian swirls toward anxious Florida, packing 140-mph winds

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Hurricane Dorian spun across the Atlantic ocean toward Florida on Friday, becoming an even stronger Category 4 storm as residents and tourists alike hunkered down in one of America’s biggest vacation destinations.

Dorian has the potential to put millions of people at risk, along with holiday attractions such as Walt Disney World, the NASA launchpads along the Space Coast, and even President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said Dorian was packing maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (225 kph) as it churned an unpredictable path toward Florida.

“Although fluctuations in intensity are possible early next week, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days,” the NHC said in a statement on Friday.

On Florida’s east coast, where Dorian’s winds are expected to quickly gather speed on Monday morning, residents snapped up bottled water, plywood and other supplies as fast as they could be restocked. Some gas stations had run out of fuel.

“They’re buying everything and anything that applies to a hurricane, flashlights, batteries, generators,” said Amber Hunter, 30, assistant manager at Cape Canaveral’s ACE Handiman hardware store.

In the Bahamas, evacuations were already underway, two days before Dorian is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge forecast at up to 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 meters) to the northwest of the islands.

NHC Director Ken Graham saw a worrying, unpredictable situation for Florida, with the hurricane set to hit land somewhere up its east coast and potentially linger over the state, spinning slowly.

“Slow is not our friend, the longer you keep this around the more rain we get,” Graham said in a Facebook Live video.