Hurricane Dorian, as expected, has strengthened to a Category 4 storm.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has the storm tracks projected in a more easterly path, along Florida’s coast.
However, high degrees of uncertainty remain as to where the center will ultimately go — the projections are the most likely, but are often variable.
The “cone of uncertainty” referenced by officials and seen on graphs, is in fact a representation of possible tracks of the center of the storm, not a boundary for the storm’s effects.
The eye of the storm could be in any part of the cone of uncertainty, which means the effects can vary wildly. If the eye is at either edge of the cone, for instance, it could be the difference between Volusia County emerging relatively unscathed, and landfall in Daytona Beach with catastrophic hurricane-force winds inland.
The cone then is better thought of as an error margin for where the eye of the hurricane may go. In the case of Dorian, latest NHC data has tropical force winds extending 115 miles from the eye.
“Even 10 miles east or west can make a difference in the conditions here in Volusia County,” County Manager George Rectenwald said at a mid-day press conference today, Aug. 31.
“We still have three days left before the storm makes it up to our area. There is a 100-mile error cone to that, so it could move a little further east, help us out, move a little further west, and we could get stronger conditions than are currently forecast,” Volusia County Emergency Management Director James Judge said.
“Volusia County can expect, right now, approximately 40 to 50 mile-per-hour tropical storm force winds,” Judge added
Those winds could last up to 12 hours, according to officials.
“It’s a slow-moving storm; it’s days away. So there is a lot of opportunity for it to shift path,” Recktenwald said.
As usual, everyone in Florida should be monitoring the storm, and should be prepared for vastly different outcomes.
“It’s still going to be a nasty day on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Recktenwald said.
Category 4 hurricanes have winds of between 130 and 156 mph.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center of a hurricane, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles.