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Fierce Category 4 Dorian menaces Bahamas en route to Florida

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Posted at 9:20 AM, Aug 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-31 09:22:56-04

MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Dorian has gained fearsome new muscle as an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm, bearing down on the northwestern Bahamas early Saturday en route to Florida's east coast.

Millions of people in Florida, along with the state's Walt Disney World and President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, are in the potential crosshairs of the hurricane. Forecasters say Dorian, which had top sustained winds of 140 mph (225 kph) Friday night, will threaten the Florida peninsula late Monday or early Tuesday. They are also now saying areas further north like Georgia and the Carolinas could also bear the brunt of Dorian.

But the National Hurricane Center in Miami cautioned that its meteorologists remain uncertain whether Dorian would make a devastating direct strike on the state's east coast or inflict a glancing blow. Some of the more reliable computer models predicted a late turn northward that would have Dorian hug the Florida coast.

"There is hope," Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said.

The faint hope of dodging Dorian's fury came Friday, even as the storm ratcheted up from a menacing Category 3 hurricane to an even more dangerous Category 4. That raised fears Dorian could become the most powerful hurricane to hit Florida's east coast in nearly 30 years.