The governors of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina issued evacuation orders Sunday night for coastal parts of those states as Hurricane Dorian, currently a Category 5 storm lashing the Bahamas, moves west.
Mandatory evacuation orders in Florida for low-lying and flood-prone areas and mobile homes are taking effect starting either Sunday or Monday from Palm Beach County north to at least the Daytona Beach area, and some counties to the north issued voluntary evacuation notices.
Weekend traffic was light in Florida despite those orders, unlike during the chaotic run-up to Hurricane Irma in 2017 when unusually broad Irma menaced the entire state. Current forecasts show only Florida’s east coast is affected, meaning residents may choose to flee westward.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a Sunday evening briefing that the light traffic might also be in part due to many residents being seasonal and living elsewhere or already having departed on Labor Day trips. He says remaining residents need to closely monitor forecasts and announcements.
“Please prepare, because this thing is a big boy,” DeSantis said.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the state’s Atlantic coast starting at midday Monday.
Kemp tweeted late Sunday that his executive order covers all those located east of the Interstate 95 corridor on Georgia’s Atlantic seaboard. It begins at noon EDT Monday as powerful Hurricane Dorian creeps ever closer to the U.S. Southeast.
Dorian marks the third time since 2016 that hurricane evacuations have been ordered for all of coastal Georgia. Roughly 540,000 people live on the state’s 100-mile coast. Areas to be evacuated include parts of Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh counties.
South Carolina’s governor has ordered a mandatory evacuation of his state’s entire coast as Hurricane Dorian threatens.
Gov. Henry McMaster’s order goes into effect at noon Monday, when state troopers will begin reversing lanes so that people can all head inland on major coastal highways.
Authorities say the order covers approximately 830,000 people, many of whom will be evacuating for the fourth time in four years.
McMaster says he knows some people won’t be happy having to leave their home. But he says “we believe we can keep everyone alive.”
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian was centered at 8 p.m. Sunday about 155 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida. It remained a Category 5 storm with top sustained winds of 185 mph and was moving west at 5 mph.
The National Hurricane Center forecasts the center of Dorian is to stay off shore while paralleling the South Carolina coast starting Wednesday afternoon. But a small error in the forecast could send the eye and strongest winds into the state.
More than 600 Labor Day flights in the U.S. have been canceled as of Sunday afternoon, many of them in Florida as Hurricane Dorian barrels toward the state’s coast.