AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Hurricane Dorian has weakened slightly, but it's still a major Category 4 storm. It's parked over the northern Bahamas, and Dorian has already caused what's being described as catastrophic damage. Dorian's winds are 145 mph with higher gusts, and the storm is currently about 100 miles from the Florida coast. Here's Florida's governor Ron DeSantis.
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RON DESANTIS: We are in a situation where the storm is stalling very close to our coast. It is going to make a movement, and the movement that it makes is going to have a lot of impact on Floridians.
CHANG: All right. NPR's Greg Allen is in West Palm Beach to catch us up on how things look from there. Hey, Greg.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.
CHANG: So is Florida in danger of seeing the kind of damage Dorian's inflicting on the Bahamas?
ALLEN: Well, we certainly hope not. What we know is that right now the hurricane is hardly moving. It's moving very slowly over the Bahamas, and it's going to sit there for quite some time. The National Hurricane Center says sometime tomorrow, Dorian will begin to move off the Bahamas and take what they think will be a hard right turn...
ALLEN: ...And start heading north. At that time and even now, Dorian has a very large wind field. But the eye of the storm will stay off Florida's coast by the - as the various models suggest, as it heads north. So we'll be getting - coastal areas in Florida and north of Florida are being told to prepare for hurricane-force winds and possible flooding from rain and storm surge. And there is, of course, a chance that those, you know, forecasts could not be exactly right, and the storm could jog a bit to the west and come ashore and then do even more damage, something like we've seen on Grand Bahama today.
CHANG: OK. So people are waiting for this massive storm to possibly veer away from the coast. As you're talking to them, how nervous do they seem?
ALLEN: Well, you know, this has been going on now for days, people watching this storm come our way. And you know, we feel very badly for the Bahamas; everyone does who's watching what's going on there. But at the same time, we want to avoid it. And while we're waiting for Dorian to make this turn, people are nervous.
But today I was surprised to see the number of people who were out down at the beaches. Throughout Florida, a lot of people were out. Rainbands were bringing in rain with winds, but many people were walking along the coast and looking at the high waves. And there were surfers out here in Palm Beach Island, where I was today. It was almost a party atmosphere in some places, with dozens, hundreds of people out walking along the shore just watching the waves and the surfers.
On Palm Beach, I talked to a woman named Marion Gross,, who - she talked about the difficulty of waiting to see if these forecasts proved true.
MARION GROSS: We're just sort of keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that both the American and the European predictions...
ALLEN: The models...
GROSS: ...Are correct, yes.
ALLEN: And she's talking there about the forecast computer models that have consistently shown Dorian will turn north before hitting the Florida coast. And we're all hoping those models prove correct.
CHANG: That said, authorities, they have ordered mandatory evacuations all along Florida's Atlantic coast. Right? So they certainly are treating this quite seriously.
ALLEN: Oh, yes. Exactly - because even if it stays off shore, because of the winds and the flooding threat, evacuations have been ordered all along the Florida coast for mobile homes and beachside communities that may see storm surge. And it's not just here in Florida. Georgia, South Carolina and parts of North Carolina have also ordered mandatory evacuations along the coast.
So it's something that everybody's watching. People are nervous. Even if it doesn't hit us, we know it's going to have a substantial impact. And there is that chance it can hit us. There's also a potential for flooding from this storm that could be, you know, very bad in the northern part of Florida and then, later in the week, along the coast in Georgia and South Carolina, as well.
CHANG: That's NPR's Greg Allen in West Palm Beach, Fla. Thanks very much, Greg.
ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.