A menacing Hurricane Dorian is taking aim at the northern Bahamas early Sunday, strengthening to a “catastrophic” Category 5 storm — packing winds of 160 mph and the threat of torrential rain that could last for days as millions in the U.S. along the Southeast coast from Florida to North Carolina are keeping an eye on where the storm may head next.
The National Hurricane Center as of 8 a.m. this morning reported the center of the Category 5 storm was located around 35 miles east of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas and 225 miles east of West Palm Beach, as it was moving west at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph.
Dorian is an extremely dangerous hurricane. The storm is set to deliver a “devastating blow” to the northwest Bahamas today through tomorrow.
In the northern stretches of the Bahamas archipelago, hotels closed, residents boarded up homes and officials hired boats to move people from low-lying areas to bigger islands as Dorian approached.
Government spokesman Kevin Harris said today Dorian is expected to impact some 73,000 residents and 21,000 homes. Authorities closed airports for The Abaco Islands, Grand Bahama, and Bimini, but Lynden Pindling International Airport at the capital of Nassau remained open.
After striking the Bahamas, Dorian will take aim at the east coast of Florida.
But forecasters warn that Dorian’s path could easily shift and bring some of the worst conditions to coastal locations of Florida. If there is a difference in the track by 30 miles, that’s the difference between tropical-storm-force and hurricane winds for much of Florida.
Yesterday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency, mobilizing state resources to prepare for potential storm effects. President Trump already declared a state of emergency and was brief late Saturday about the storm.
The hurricane upended some Labor Day holiday weekend plans in the U.S.: Major airlines allowed travelers to change their reservations without fees, big cruise lines rerouted their ships and Cumberland Island National Seashore off Georgia closed to visitors. Disney World and Orlando’s other resorts held off announcing any closings.