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Florida residents packed sandbags on Thursday as an increasingly menacing-looking Hurricane Dorian threatened to broadside the state over Labor Day weekend. (Aug. 29)
AP, AP

As Hurricane Dorian was on track to strengthen into a major storm Friday, Florida residents prepared for possible life-threatening storm surge at the end of Labor Day weekend. 

Forecasters expect Dorian to hit the southeastern coast as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane on Monday, somewhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia, bringing winds that may reach between 140-130 mph.

Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis requested President Donald Trump declare a pre-landfall disaster for the entire state, and urged residents to continue monitoring Dorian.

Keep up with Dorian this weekend: Get USA TODAY’s Daily Briefing in your inbox

Here’s what we know so far about the storm:

When and where will Dorian hit?

A Monday arrival seems likely, although Florida residents could experience tropical storm-force winds as early as Saturday night. Once Dorian approaches the coast, it is expected to slow down considerably.

Forecasters say it’s too early to tell where Dorian will have the greatest impact, but any part of the coast between the Florida Keys and the southern part of Georgia could be a landing spot.

After that, the storm’s path would be unpredictable. It could continue north along the coast or head west across the state toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Where is Dorian?

After mostly sparing Puerto Rico, Dorian has exited the Caribbean and moved into the Atlantic Ocean.

As of 5 a.m. EDT Friday, the storm was located about 260 miles east-northeast of the southeastern Bahamas, moving at 12 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. 

The weather service said that on its current track, “Dorian should move over the

Atlantic well east of the southeastern and central Bahamas today, approach the northwestern Bahamas Saturday, and move near or over portions of the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday.”

How powerful is it?

With sustained winds up to 105 mph, Dorian qualifies as a Category 2 hurricane. That’s not as much a concern now that it’s in open water, but the issue is how much steam it may pick up.

The hurricane center said Dorian is expected to become a Category 3 hurricane – with sustained winds of at least 111 mph – by Friday. The weather service’s current forecast has Dorian with winds at 140-mph while slamming the Bahamas Sunday into Monday. 

Why is it getting stronger?

Hurricanes need three major ingredients to form: water at least 80 degrees in temperature, moist air and converging winds. Then the storm nourishes from the water’s heat energy.

Scary: 5 things that make Dorian a dangerous hurricane

“The warmer the water, the more moisture is in the air,’’ the website for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. “And that could mean bigger and stronger hurricanes.’’

The hurricane center said current conditions in the Atlantic are favorable for the storm to intensify over the next day.

What kind of impact could it have?

It could be calamitous. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties, urging residents to prepare with supplies like food, water and medicines for at least a week.

“The time to act is now,” DeSantis said. “Do not wait until it’s too late.”

President Donald Trump is monitoring the storm, and said the federal government is ready to help on a recorded message. 

The main concern is that Dorian will slow as it approaches the coast, which could prolong the period of heavy rainfall, winds and storm surge.

The hurricane center warns there could be “devastating hurricane-force winds’’ along the state’s eastern coast and peninsula, and rain totals in coastal areas of the southeast U.S. could range from 6 to 12 inches and up to 15 inches in isolated areas.

“There is an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the Florida east coast late this weekend or early next week,’’ the center said.

Airlines canceled 110 flights to, from and within the U.S. Thursday and 14 Friday, according to FlightAware.com, with those totals likely to increase.