Preparing for Dorian

As Hurricane Dorian moves over the warm waters of the southern Atlantic, it will present optimal conditions for Dorian to continue strengthening. During the overnight hours Tuesday into Wednesday, Dorian strengthened about 50-60 miles north and the track shifted about 60-70 miles to the east. With its change in track, Dorian now will be a 4 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes, and AccuWeather now estimates the total damage and economic loss to be caused by Dorian will total between $18 billion and $20 billion.

The estimate includes damage to homes and businesses, their contents and cars, as well as job and wage losses, infrastructure damage, costs to the Labor Day travel and tourism industry and Disney World, as well as auxiliary business losses. Citrus crop and vegetable damages are likely to occur, as well as unexpected impacts such as possible tornadoes.

"Conditions are such that steady intensification of Hurricane Dorian is likely, with rapid intensification possible as the storm passes to the east of the Bahamas," said Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski Thursday morning. "We expect Dorian to make landfall as a major hurricane, which would have the potential to bring widespread power outages with significant and potentially catastrophic wind damage to structures near the point of landfall. Devastating storm surge flooding would occur along the coast near and to the north of where the system moves onshore. Flash flooding will be a threat over a larger portion of the Florida Peninsula and into the Southeast."

On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency to give officials enough time to prepare for the storm and urged all Floridians on the state's east coast to "have seven days of supplies, prepare their homes and follow the track closely."

To ensure readiness and safety, AccuWeather offers the following tips:

Evacuation planning

People evacuate during hurricanes because of storm surge, an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm's winds that can reach heights well over 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastlines. Local governments provide the public with information about evacuation areas and the evacuation plans; residents in Dorian's path are recommended to review this information in advance. Ensure you have a way to receive warnings -- a NOAA weather radio, the free AccuWeather app on your mobile phone, AccuWeather.com or the radio/television. Sign up for alert notifications that are specific to your town or region. Know your local hurricane evacuation route(s), as well as shelters outside the evacuation zone. Make sure your vehicles are in good working condition and able to make the potentially several hundred-mile trip. Make sure to scope out shelters that welcome pets, if necessary.

Prepare a hurricane emergency kit:

Change of clothes for several days Documents, (ID, Insurance Cards, Bank Cards, Birth Certificates) Water Nonperishable foods or snacks Cash in varying bills Local maps Whistle to signal for help Pet supplies Medicine

Buy supplies well in advance and keep supplies on hand should evacuation be required. The following are key essentials in case of power outages.

Jerky Dried fruits Nuts, seeds Peanut butter Protein bars Granola bars Cereals Canned goods Stock bottled water with at least 1 gallon of water per person per day

Sports drinks Single-serving shakes Nutrition drinks Power essentials

Phone and charger Flashlights, (LED) Batteries Waterproof matches Candles Hand-cranked or battery-operated radio First-aid kit

Prescription medicines Bandages Gauze Antiseptic Wipes Medical gloves Painkillers Hygiene products

Toothpaste Toothbrushes Shampoo Toilet tissue Diapers Soap

Keep all items in backpacks and stored in plastic tubs or waterproof storage containers. Sleeping bags and blankets are other items to consider bringing along.

Before evacuating

Clear out drains and gutters to keep them from flooding when it rains heavily. Bring inside any outdoor objects that could be picked up and thrown by strong winds. Unplug electronic devices and turn off utilities as directed to do so by authorities before evacuating. Large pets or livestock that cannot be taken with you when evacuating should be evacuated well ahead of time, so it's important to have a plan in place for this. Board up all windows to prevent broken glass. Hurricane or tropical storm? Know the difference!

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch: Hurricane conditions are possible in the next 48 hours. Stay tuned into alerts and look over evacuation route. Double-check emergency preparedness kit. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. If in the evacuation zone, it is time to evacuate to a safe shelter outside the evacuation zone with your family and pets. Stay in contact with family and friends using phones or social media to let them know you're safe.

For more weather safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.