When Dorian was born east of the Leeward Islands last weekend, forecasters didn’t believe the spinning low pressure had much of a chance to grow into anything serious.

Hurricane Dorian keeps beating the odds. It has overcome dry air, wind shear and side-stepped tall mountains that could have destroyed it.

Dorian, now projected to grow into a major Category 3 hurricane, is expected to hit somewhere between Miami and Savannah, Georgia.

Dorian now has the attention of Florida’s emergency management directors, including those in Alachua and Marion counties. Local emergency directors will hold meetings Thursday to discuss plans moving into Labor Day weekend.

When Dorian was born east of the Leeward Islands last weekend, forecasters didn’t believe the spinning low pressure had much of a chance to grow into anything serious.

The first few National Hurricane Center forecasts predicted that Dorian would likely not intensify by the time it made landfall in southeast Florida as a tropical storm.

Dorian was facing an uphill battle on its road to intensification. It was surrounded by dry air and wind shear aloft.

If that wasn’t enough, Dorian at the time projected to pass over the 10,000-foot-tall Pico Duarte Mountains in Hispaniola. Forecasters questioned whether the storm would survive such a disruption.

On Wednesday all that changed. Dorian became a hurricane after it skirted the east coast of Puerto Rico, far away from the large mountain ranges that could have significantly disrupted it.

The center of the cone of uncertainty has Dorian making landfall near Daytona Beach at 8 a.m. Monday, with the worst of the storm northward over St. Augustine and Jacksonville.

Officials with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, which issues forecasts for Alachua and Marion counties, said Wednesday that everyone needs to watch the storm closely.

“Right now, it is a long way off,” said Kip Bricker, a meteorologist at the Jacksonville weather office.

Bricker said the forecast can change significantly because landfall is still five days away.

“Everyone needs to monitor Dorian,” he said.

Two of the most reliable computer forecast models are both far part. The GFS is predicting Dorian will cross over the peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico. The European model predicts that Dorian will hug Florida’s east coast and go northward toward the Carolinas.

Emergency management directors statewide are monitoring Dorian closely. In Alachua and Marion counties, both directors will hold meetings Thursday with fire, law enforcement and other agencies to discuss plans and preparation for the storm. Marion County’s meeting will be held Thursday morning, and Alachua’s meeting will be held in the afternoon.

“We’re still wait and see. We’re monitoring the storm,” Alachua County spokesman Mark Sexton said. “The National Weather Service made it clear that it is way too soon and too far out. It can slow down or speed up. It’s too early to tell people to batten down the hatches.”

Preston Bowlin, Marion County’s emergency management director, said his staff is monitoring the storm closely. His team is preparing to launch sandbag sites later in the week if needed.

“Everyone needs to be ready,” Bowlin said. “I hope by morning to have better information to work with.”

Bowlin has said the biggest threat from Dorian will likely be rain and flooding in some of the county’s most saturated areas. Just a few weeks ago, days of torrential rain caused localized street flooding in some areas of the county, which is larger than Rhode Island.

The National Hurricane forecast released Wednesday states that everyone “should not focus on the exact forecast track, as the average 5-day track error is around 200 miles.”

The hurricane center also reported that “heavy rains are expected to occur over portions of the Bahamas, Florida, and elsewhere in the southeastern United States later this week and into early next week.”

“The risk of dangerous storm surge and hurricane-force winds is increasing in the central and northwestern Bahamas and along the Florida east coast, although it is too soon to determine where these hazards will occur,” the forecast discussion states. “Residents in these areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place and not focus on the exact forecast track of Dorian’s center.”

Cindy Swirko of the Gainesville Sun contributed to this report. Joe Callahan can be reached at 867-4113 at joe.callahan@starbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoeOcalaNews.

This story originally published to gainesville.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network via the Florida Wire. The Florida Wire, which runs across digital, print and video platforms, curates and distributes Florida-focused stories. For more Florida stories, visit here, and to support local media throughout the state of Florida, consider subscribing to your local paper.