MIAMI - A strengthening Hurricane Dorian posed an increasing threat to Florida as it swirled toward a possible direct hit on the state over Labor Day weekend.
Here’s what we know so far:
WHERE IS DORIAN?
Dorian blew through the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday. Puerto Rico seemed to be spared any heavy wind and rain, a huge relief on an island where blue tarps still cover some 30,000 homes nearly two years after Hurricane Maria. No serious damage was reported in the British Virgin Islands.
On Thursday, the storm was expected to move northwest of Turks and Caicos. It was predicted to pick up steam as it pushes out into warm waters with favorable winds, according to University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, who added: "Starting (Friday), it really has no obstacles left in its way."
Forecasters said the Category 1 hurricane was expected to bulk up into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 with winds of 130 mph before hitting the U.S. on Monday.
WHERE WILL IT MAKE LANDFALL?
While it’s still too early to tell what area will see the greatest impact, forecasters were predicting Dorian will likely hit somewhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia. The National Hurricane Center said there is an “increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge” expected along portions of the Florida east coast late in the weekend into Labor Day.
Regardless of the exact path, heavy rains were expected over portions of the Bahamas, Florida and elsewhere in the southeastern U.S. this weekend and into the middle of next week.
The National Hurricane Center has an interactive map on its website with predicted arrival times and wind gusts.
WHAT’S BEING DONE TO HELP?
Those in Hurricane Dorian’s predicted path were advised to have a hurricane plan in place, know if they are in a hurricane evacuation zone and listen to advice given by local emergency officials.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency, clearing the way to bring in more fuel and call in the National Guard if necessary. Local governments have already begun distributing sandbags.
At the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, NASA decided to move the mobile launch platform for its new mega rocket under development indoors.
Some residents used community Facebook groups to share updates on grocery stores getting new shipments of water.
President Donald Trump said Florida is "going to be totally ready." He tweeted: "Be prepared and please follow State and Federal instructions, it will be a very big Hurricane, perhaps one of the biggest!"
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.