Hurricane Dorian strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane Friday, and it's expected to stay "extremely dangerous" as it moves near the Bahamas and approaches the Florida coast, the National Hurricane Center said.
There's a good chance Dorian will power its way into a Category 4 with potentially catastrophic 140 mph winds before making landfall on the mainland U.S. on Monday evening or Tuesday morning.
The National Weather Service said Dorian could bring a "triple-threat of dangers" to the state, including a "life-threatening storm surge, devastating hurricane-force winds and heavy rains." The center urged Floridians to "prepare NOW."
As of 2 p.m. EDT Friday, Dorian's center was some 625 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida, and about 445 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas as it headed northwest at 10 mph, the hurricane center said. Dorian had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph.
Dorian strengthened to a Category 3 storm Friday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. Dorian is now being classified as a "major hurricane" and is expected to remain an "extremely dangerous major hurricane" as it approaches the Florida peninsula.
Tropical storm conditions are possible in the northwestern Bahamas by Saturday night or Sunday morning, which are then expected to turn into hurricane conditions as the storm gets closer on Sunday.
The National Weather Service warned life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels in areas of the northwestern Bahamas.
Life-threatening surf and rip current conditions are expected as swells are likely to begin affecting the eastern shores of the Bahamas, the Florida East Coast and the southeastern U.S. over the next few days.
As much as 18 inches of rain could hit the Southeast U.S., with six to 12 inches expected.
The major building boom in Miami is leading to worries about the safety of construction cranes when Dorian hits, CBS Miami reports. Hurricane Irma's powerful winds snapped three cranes at South Florida construction sites in 2017.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the city is taking aggressive steps regarding crane safety. He said companies have been told that cranes must be secured before the arrival of the storm and anyone failing to do so will face hefty fines.
"We've already informed the crane operators and contractors that they have to secure their cranes," Suarez said. "We saw obviously during Hurricane Irma that we had multiple cranes that failed and were a huge danger to our residents."
Miami resident Jake Edelstein said he is concerned about the cranes and what the winds from Hurricane Dorian might do. Edelstein rents a condo in the downtown Miami area not far from where 3 cranes collapsed in September of 2017 after Hurricane Irma.
"In the past cranes have fallen in South Florida and they are building here so much and I'm so concerned about a hurricane of this size," said Edelstein. "My biggest concerns in this neighborhood is that I live in around Biscayne Boulevard and what could potentially happen."
Marc Price also hopes all of the cranes in the area where he lives and around Miami Dade are secured properly.
"Of course I realize there has to be a high standard and I know they're making preparations but this is hard with what the weather can do. I know the process is costly and takes time it is a conundrum," said Price.
The National Weather Service is encouraging anyone in the path of the storm that it's "never too early" to start preparing a hurricane kit.
CBS News has rounded up some emergency preparedness tips for people and pets, as well as a checklist of supplies to have on hand before a big storm arrives.
Ahead of potentially devastating storms this hurricane season, the Red Cross recommends having the following supplies on hand:
The University of Miami said it has canceled classes at the Coral Gables, marine and medical campuses beginning at noon on Friday, August 30 through Tuesday, September 3.
The university also said it is putting storm shutters in place and positioning sandbags near doorways at those three campuses.
Their emergency information hotline has been setup: 1-800-227-0354
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted that he has activated more than 2,500 Florida National Guard troops as the state braces for Hurricane Dorian.
He added: "I encourage all Floridians to continue to monitor and heed all warnings."
President Trump has posted a video on Twitter encouraging Florida residents to prepare for Hurricane Dorian as the government makes its own preparations.
In a video posted Thursday evening from the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said Dorian initially appeared to be a small storm, but has grown quickly over the past day.
Mr. Trump said: "It's looking like it could be an absolute monster."