(CNN) — A powerful Hurricane Dorian could hit next week anywhere along the southeastern US coast, with landfall projected at this point somewhere in the Carolinas.
“It’s important to note that much of Florida and the southeast coast remain in the forecast ‘cone of uncertainty,’ meaning landfall is still possible anywhere along the east coast of Florida and points further north,” CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen said Saturday morning.
A lot about the Category 4 storm’s path remains uncertain. Here’s what to expect in the coming days:
Dorian is barreling west in the Atlantic midday Saturday toward the US mainland, with sustained winds of 150 mph — not far off Category 5 strength, with its wind-speed range starting at 157 mph.
As it creeps at 8 mph, west of the Bahamas, it is expected to get even stronger.
A hurricane warning is in effect in the northwestern Bahamas, excluding the Andros Islands, where a hurricane watch is in effect.
“A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous,” the National Hurricane Center said. “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”
The storm is expected to be near or over the northwestern part of the Bahamas.
The islands on Sunday evening will feel the effects of the hurricane, with wind speeds of up to 145 mph.
Damage could be catastrophic. A storm surge could raise water levels by 15 feet and be joined by large, destructive waves, the hurricane center said.
“Although fluctuations in intensity are possible early next week, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days,” the hurricane center said.
Dorian by late Monday is due to get closer to the Florida’s east coast, the hurricane center said.
That’s when its next move is most uncertain, CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said.
The hurricane at some point will shift to the north, she said. The timing of that shift will determine whether it makes landfall in Florida or if skirts along the coast before striking land somewhere in the Carolinas.
If that happens, Dorian would look much like Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Chinchar said. Dorian’s forecast path beyond the Bahamas looks “eerily similar” to the route Matthew took, Chinchar added.
“The concern here (is) Matthew didn’t technically make landfall until it hit South Carolina, it just skirted the coast. It still ended up being one of the most expensive hurricanes to impact the coast of Florida,” Chinchar said.
However, she added, “that storm was significantly weaker than Dorian is.”