As a downgraded Hurricane Dorian slowly approached the Florida coast, the Category 4 storm made its presence known with strong winds and conditions favorable for funnel clouds.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport closed at 12:00 p.m. on September 2 in response to tropical-storm level winds.
The airport, which handled just over 119,000 tons of cargo in 2019, said it would remain closed until further notice. Larger air cargo hubs Miami International Airport and Orlando International airport remained open.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Ports Authority announced that its facilities in Savannah and Brunswick will close on September 3, in anticipation of Dorian lashing Georgia’s coast.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) extended its hurricane warning northward to the Flagler/Volusia County line in Florida, and extended a hurricane watch to Altamaha Sound in Georgia.
While current forecasts project Dorian moving near the coast of southeast Florida, and then moving northward, the NHC reiterated the dangers to the region. It also expanded storm surge warnings to the Flagler-Volusia county line in Florida and from the Georgia coast the Savannah River.
NHC data, which is also housed in the FreightWaves SONAR platform, showed Dorian producing winds as high as 155 mph as it moved through the Bahamas.
While the current forecast does not predict landfall in Florida, FreightWaves Meteorologist Nick Austin said the prospect shouldn’t be discounted because of the hurricane’s unusually erratic behavior.
“There’s still a chance Dorian will make landfall somewhere on the southeast coast of the U.S. Where and when are unknown at this time,” Austin said. “Even if it doesn’t make landfall, if the eye of the hurricane gets close to land, that could still cause a great deal of damage.”
Austin said he would expect the storm to weaken as it approached the U.S.
He advised anyone involved in moving freight to exercise additional caution because the storm has proved difficult to predict, in part because of its slow movement.
“You have to be ready for any possibly,” Austin said.
He cautioned that even if the hurricane appears to hover off the Florida coast it could change direction in a relatively short amount of time. While that might take hours, road congestion could make it difficult to get out of Dorian’s path.
South Florida ports closed during the evening of September 1. Meanwhile, logistics providers and retailers have been closely following the storm and its unpredictable path.