Speed Reads

Hurricane Dorian

Why Hurricane Dorian's weakening winds aren't weakening its storm surge

Hurricane Dorian has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane as it travels along the East Coast of the United States, but that doesn't mean it no longer poses a serious threat, especially when it comes to storm surge. Parts of the Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina coasts could experience surges of up to seven feet.

When the storm was battering the Bahamas its winds topped out at 185 mph. That number dipped to 105 — which is still formidable — while Dorian hovered about 90 miles east of Daytona Beach, Florida, on Wednesday morning. But the storm actually expanded in size, meaning its winds cover a larger area. That means they're still more than capable of generating giant waves and pushing large amounts of water toward the shore, The Washington Post reports.

There's also the fact that when Dorian's pressure dropped and it stalled over the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm, its winds churned up the Atlantic Ocean. Some of that water is also reportedly on its way to the Southeast. "Don't focus too much on the fact it is weakening in terms of category," said Sarah Johnson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office in Charleston, South Carolina. She added that water levels could also increase depending on how heavy the coastal rainfall is.