The latest updates from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast that Hurricane Dorian could now strengthen to a Category 4 storm as it approaches Florida, with maximum wind speeds of 115 knots, or 132mph.
Dorian continues to track northwest across the Atlantic at roughly 13mph with wind speeds of 85mph, and is projected to make landfall on the east coast of Florida late on Monday morning.
The storm strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane yesterday and narrowly missed Puerto Rico earlier today on its path towards the US mainland.
NHC forecasts now shos Dorian intensifying over the coming days and reaching the lower end of Category 4 status (wind speeds of 130-156mph), with gust speeds of up to 140 knots, or 161mph.
Forecasts now seem to leave little doubt that Dorian will make landfall in the US early next week, with a double-landfall also a possibility if the storm crosses the Florida peninsula and turns north in the Gulf of Mexico.
This scenario could entail significant losses for the insurance and reinsurance industries, with analysts at Credit Suisse predicting that Dorian could result in insured losses of between $10 billion and $30 billion.
Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW) also believe that the majority of losses from a major Florida landfall would be borne by reinsurers, rather than the primary insurance market.
The NHC forecast predicts that Dorian will weaken significantly by Tuesday, with maximum wind speeds decreasing to 65 knots, or 75mph, and gust speeds of 80 knots, or 92 mph.
In the meantime though, Dorian is continuing to grow in size, with tropical storm force winds now extending 90 miles out from its centre.
“Dorian is likely to reach major hurricane strength in the next day or two and is forecast to maintain that status until it reaches land,” the NHC said in a statement.
The estimated minimum central pressure of the hurricane has also dropped to 986mb, and the structure has become more arranged, with a more defined eye emerging.