Dorian, a small storm in terms of size, offers a great example to explain the many factors that impact these storms and determine what they will or won't do. On the one hand, since the storm is small, it can be quickly impacted by introduction of dry air which can inhibit development, but if the central core comes together really tight, it can pack a major wallop in the area where it directly hits land. It must successfully navigate its way out of the dry Saharan air and since it is moving to the north-northwest, it must get by the high mountains of Hispaniola or it might just fizzle and die. If it survives, however, going over very warm Bahama waters could cause dramatic strengthening but we just don't know at this time.
Likewise, the determination of where it will go once in Bahama waters appears right now to be somewhere in Florida, yet the directness and severity will be governed by the Bermuda high that it is trying to work around but which is also likely to expand more to the west. It's all about timing, for if it starts skirting around the high first, it will move northwestward for a while, before turning more to the west. That would favor a hit in the central region of the state. If the high instead dissipates on its western flank, the storm would likely head more in a north direction toward the Carolinas, just offshore of Florida. An early extension of the high would mean South Florida and then the Gulf would be open for mischief and its appearance in the very warm Gulf would likely mean major strengthening to impact areas from West Florida to Texas.
The closer it gets to the United States mainland, the more likely the forecast gets accurate but, and this is a big but, with Florida now so heavily populated, those in place when the call is made are likely not going to be able to get out of Dodge in time. It brings back memories of Hurricane Irma two years ago which raked the long peninsula from one end to the other and many were stranded on the road. Or if they made it out, they had a tough time getting back home later and had to worry about the likelihood of looting in neighborhoods where no one was home.
One thing is certain and it's that the storm will go somewhere and wherever that is, if it is strong, it will not be good for those where it hits. If it fizzles, many will just chalk it up as a false alarm and just forget about it, the worst thing we can do. We have nearly two more months when hurricanes usually grow and move west this year, so keep your guard up until the coast is clear, sometimes that's as late as December, and then nor'easters can be just as frightening. Don't complain, my friends, for it's the price we pay when we want to live near the sea.
I'll leave you with this. Many think if we make it to mid-October, we don't have to worry anymore. Well, the picture below, a before and after look at Oak Island, North Carolina in 1954, shows the fury of a hurricane striking land in mid-October. As you can see by the picture before and after Hurricane Hazel brought its wrath to shore, all months of hurricane season should never be scoffed at. Consider yourself warned.