“If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me /
One day I’ll know, how far I’ll go…”
– How Far I’ll Go from Disney’s Moana
Why the lyrics? Because a big part of how far Tropical Storm Dorian goes depends on Moana. Well actually, on Mona. Specifically, the Mona Passage.
The Mona Passage is the waterway between Puerto Rico and the island of Hispaniola (home to Dominican Republic and Haiti). If Dorian is able to “thread the needle” between the two islands, straight up the Mona Passage, then she has a better chance of sticking together, maybe even strengthening, and making it to Florida. If she goes to the right over Puerto Rico (as is the current thinking as of Tuesday’s 5PM advisory), the interaction with land could hamper her efforts to strengthen. If she veers left toward the mountainous regions of Hispaniola, then she could even break apart.
With that in mind, here are the key messages for the Attractions Areas:
- Timing: If the storm sticks together, the current thinking is that the main wind/rain impacts on Central Florida would be on Sunday after a landfall Sunday afternoon a good bit south of Port Canaveral. The “earliest reasonable arrival time of tropical storm force winds” would be mid to late day on Saturday. Prior to arrival in Florida, the storm would pass east of Castaway Cay in the Bahamas on Saturday.
- Strength: We don’t know. The current advisory has the storm maintaining tropical storm status all the way through a potential Florida landfall, but the NHC says uncertainty remains “higher than usual” due to the question of the path near Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Once the storm passes that area, we’ll have a much better idea.
- Preparations: At a brief stop today at the local Megamart, I noted the cases of bottled water are now right in the middle of the main aisle upon entry. Some folks were taking them up on the offer. And that’s fine. We’re still not at the point (and may never be) where you have to go and start boarding up windows and buying all the bread in the county. But it’s always good seeing people thinking ahead and not having to scavenge the stores last minute. The best way to prepare is to buy stuff you’ll use anyway, and rotate it through your regular food usage.
- About the Cone: The cone depicts the possible path of the center of the storm, and even then it only reflects the most likely margin of error. The center can still go beyond the edges of the cone, and storm impacts can spread out further than the edges of the cone. A great video from the NHC outlines how to read the cone. Most importantly, this passage from the National Hurricane Center’s forecast advisory: ” errors for track have averaged near 150 nautical miles on day four and 175 nautical miles on day five… and for intensity near 15 knots each day.”
- Don’t Panic: Seriously. Now is not the time to lose your head. We might get a tropical storm, we might get a hurricane, we might get diddly squat. We don’t know yet. You can (and should) make basic preparations. But don’t go bananas yet.
Remember, your duty over the coming days is to check in at least once (twice would be better) for official updates from the National Hurricane Center.