Hurricane Dorian became Category 3 with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles (185 km) per hour and continued to move toward the U.S. state of Florida, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest forecast Friday.
The NHC update issued at 2 p.m. ET located the center of the devastating hurricane 625 miles (1,005 km) east of West Palm Beach, Florida. It was moving northwestward near 10 miles (17 km) per hour.
Category 3 hurricanes have maximum sustained winds of between 111 and 129 (178 and 208 km) miles per hour, according to the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which categorizes hurricanes into five levels. Anything of or above Category 3 is considered a "major" hurricane.
The NHC expected Dorian to "be near the Florida peninsula late Monday," possibly as a Category 4 hurricane. It said Dorian is "extremely dangerous" and "poses a significant threat to Florida and the northwestern Bahamas."
Urging residents to make preparation plans in advance and "listen to advice given by local emergency officials," the NHC said in an advisory note that a prolonged period of storm surge, high winds and heavy rains are expected over portions of Florida into next week.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday approved state of emergency declaration request from Florida as the powerful hurricane marched closer to the state.
"The president's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts," the White House said in a statement.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for 26 counties in the state that could potentially be in the hurricane's path. He expanded the emergency status to all of Florida's 67 counties Thursday "due to Hurricane Dorian's uncertain projected path," he said in a statement carried by his website.