A TERRIFYING 130mph cyclone will devastate the Bahamas and Miami this weekend after strengthening to a "life threatening" category 4 storm.
Hurricane Dorian has been described as an "absolute monster" by Donald Trump who has cancelled a trip to Poland over the storm crisis.
Dorian is gathering pace crossing the warm Atlantic and is expected to bring apocalyptic winds when it eventually makes landfall in the US.
Forecasters predict the hurricane will quickly strengthen to a catastrophic Category 4 when it hits the mainland.
It's due to smash into central Florida by Labor Day Monday – a US bank holiday when the Sunshine State will be packed with tourists.
The eye of Dorian is expected to hit the east and north of Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas later today – where warnings are already in place.
Florida's governor has now extended a state of emergency to cover all of the state, including multiple tourist destinations.
Ron DeSantis took the step as authorities cancelled some commercial flights, planned precautions at rocket launch sites along the Space Coast.
He also put 2,500 National Guard troops on alert.
No evacuations have been ordered as yet but many are expected ahead of Monday.
Spurred on by warm late-summer waters, Dorian is predicted to pack winds topping 130mph, warned the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).
That would make it a Category 4 storm, the second-strongest on the Saffir-Simpson scale which measures hurricane intensity.
"There is an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the Florida east coast late this weekend or early next week, although it is too soon to determine where the highest storm surge will occur," the NHC said.
"Residents should have their hurricane plan in place, know if they are in a hurricane evacuation zone, and listen to advice given by local emergency officials."
Dorian is likely to make landfall on Florida's eastern coast before lingering over central Florida on Tuesday.
However, tropical storm-force winds could begin in parts of Florida as early as Saturday evening, weather experts warn.
"All residents, especially those along the east coast, need to be prepared for possible impacts," said governor DeSantis.
"As it increases strength, this storm has the potential to severely damage homes, businesses and buildings, which is why all Floridians should remain vigilant.
"Do not wait until it is too late to make a plan."
NASA footage – taken from the International Space Station on Thursday – shows the vortex gaining in power just north of Puerto Rico.
Dorian was packing maximum sustained winds of 85mph on Thursday morning some 220 miles north-northwest of San Juan, and about 370 miles east of the Bahamas.
TRUMP TRIP SCRAPPED
In an address to the nation last night, President Trump warned: "It really began to form, and form big.
"Now, it's looking like it could be an absolute monster."
Earlier, Trump cancelled the planned visit to Poland this weekend so he could remain in the US to monitor the storm's impact.
He is sending Vice President Mike Pence in his place as he wants to make sure federal resources are properly directed at the arriving storm.
In the tweeted video from the White House rose garden, Trump added that food and water supplies were hurriedly being shipped to Florida.
And he said of the impending storm: "It does seem almost certain that its hitting dead centre and that's not good.
"The winds seem to be building at a tremendous rate.
"It looks like the winds are going to be unbelievably high."
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands managed to avoid the brunt of the hurricane this week – with only light damage and flooding reported.
But the increasingly menacing-looking storm system will draw energy from the warm open waters as it closes in, forecasters say.
University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy warned: "If it makes landfall as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, that's a big deal."
No immediate mass evacuations have yet been ordered as the exact path of the storm remained unclear.
Local governments along Florida's east coast yesterday began distributing sandbags while shoppers rushed to stock up on supplies.
Supermarket shelves were cleared and motorists topped up their tanks and filled petrol cans – sparking shortages in some areas.
Dorian is expected to pick up steam as it pushes out into warm waters with favourable winds.
Forecasters said the coastal areas of southeast Florida could be deluged with up to 15 inches of rain in some places triggering life-threatening floods.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp also declared a state of emergency ahead for 12 counties closest to the state's 100 miles of coastline on Thursday.
He signed an executive order that will free up state resources for emergency preparations and response and also prohibit price gouging for goods and services such as gasoline.
The 500-mile cone of uncertainty indicates that the hurricane could be affect anywhere from coastal southern Georgia to the Florida keys.
Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian have now began rerouting their cruise ships ahead of the looking weather front..
Major airlines began allowing travellers to change their reservations without a fee.
A Rolling Stones concert Saturday at the Hard Rock Stadium near Miami was moved up to Friday night.
The hurricane season typically peaks between mid-August and late October.
One of the most powerful storms ever to hit the US was on Labor Day 1935.
The unnamed Category 5 hurricane crashed ashore along Florida's Gulf Coast on September 2 – killing more than 400 people.
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