Hurricane Dorian is expected to become a "dangerous" major hurricane on Friday, ramping up to a Category 3 with winds over 111 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of 11 a.m Friday, the hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, and it is expected to continue growing.
The hurricane could reach wind speeds as high as 140 mph, bringing the storm to a Category 4.
"Dorian is likely to remain an extremely dangerous hurricane while it moves near the northwestern Bahamas and approaches the Florida peninsula through the weekend," according to the National Hurricane Center.
The hurricane center warns people in southern and central Florida to keep a close eye as Dorian approaches.
The NHC reports that early next week, parts of Florida could see a prolonged period of hazardous weather conditions that last for a few days.
There is an increasing risk of life-threatening storm surges along portions of Florida's east coast late this weekend or early next week, the NHC said.
The center also warns that the risk of "devastating hurricane-force winds" along Florida's east coast and the peninsula has increased, but it is unclear where to expect the strongest winds.
"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," the NHC reports.
As of 11 a.m. Friday, the hurricane is about 480 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas. Forecasters say the hurricane should move over the Atlantic well east of the southeastern and central Bahamas today and approach the northwestern Bahamas Saturday. On Sunday, Dorian may move over or near parts of the northwestern Bahamas.
Dorian has slowed some and is moving northwest at about 10 mph.
"There's a lot of agreement that this will go north and northeast and, therefore, we're not off the hook," said FOX8 Chief Meteorologist Van Denton said Thursday night. "It may not be anywhere as strong as it is now, but still tropical systems like this with that much power take a while to wind down. That's something we'll have to watch."
Regardless of the exact track of Dorian, heavy rains are expected to hit parts of Florida and the southeastern U.S. this weekend and into the middle of next week.
"Rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods," according to the NHC.
Florida and Georgia have declared states of emergency.