(ABC News) – Dorian strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane as it neared Puerto Rico Wednesday afternoon.
The storm will then move north, potentially becoming a major Category 3 hurricane when it reaches Florida over the holiday weekend.
Dorian isn’t forecast to make landfall in Puerto Rico, but the island may still see 10 inches of heavy rain as well as mudslides and flooding.
Dorian’s center is forecast to pass to the east of Puerto Rico right over the U.S. Virgin Islands before moving into the Atlantic.
The Puerto Rican government said it is fully prepared for the storm’s impact. Gov. Wanda Vazquez said Monday night that the government is 90% ready to deal with any possible damage Dorian might cause.
Meanwhile, many in Puerto Rico are still reeling from the devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Maria, including tens of thousands of residents living under blue tarp roofs.
More than 7,400 generators and three mega generators are already on the island, according to the governor, and at least 360 shelters will open, accommodating up to 48,500 people.
President Donald Trump has approved an emergency declaration, which will provide federal assistance in Puerto Rico.
“The communication with all [of the president’s] aides has been extraordinary,” Vazquez said Monday.
A new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representative is on the island assisting in response coordination.
“The response to Tropical Storm Dorian will be on top of a complex recovery effort,” a FEMA spokesperson said. “Even a smaller and less severe storm could have significant impact.”
Dorian is now forecast to have an increased wind speed of 115 mph as it gets closer to Florida.
Jacksonville, Florida, will activate its emergency operations center full-time as Dorian nears, Mayor Lenny Curry said at a news conference Wednesday.
Curry said it’s too early to make any decisions about possible evacuations, but residents should make sure they know their evacuation zone.
The storm is also impacting Labor Day travelers. Some airlines have issued travel waivers, and Royal Caribbean is closing its private island in the Bahamas for a week and altering some of its cruise ship itineraries to avoid Dorian.
As the Atlantic hurricane season nears Sept. 10 — its peak — Dorian isn’t the only tropical storm on the move. Newly-formed Tropical Storm Erin is expected to bring rough surf to the East Coast beaches from the Carolinas to New England this Labor Day weekend.
Otherwise, it is not expected to directly impact the East Coast.