Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, has become the strongest hurricane on modern record to hit the northwestern Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said Sunday, and was moving toward Grand Bahama Island on Sunday afternoon.
In an earlier update, federal forecasters had warned that the storm had become extremely intense, and cautioned people to remain alert even though current predictions don’t have the storm making landfall on the U.S. mainland.
“A small deviation to the left of the track could bring the intense core of the hurricane and its dangerous winds closer to or onto the coast,” they said.
Forecasters said the core of the storm was likely to slow as it continued to sweep through the Bahamas, with Dorian expected to move near to or over the Grand Bahama Island late Sunday and into Monday. It is then predicted to take a northward turn toward Florida’s east coast, where some coastal residents have been put under evacuation orders.
“Dorian is expected to remain a catastrophic hurricane during the next few days,” forecasters said in a 2 p.m. update.
prime minister of the Bahamas, called Dorian a historic storm that could bring storm surges washing over some island rooftops. He worried about island residents who hadn’t heeded calls to move to safety.
“This will put us to a test that we’ve never confronted before,” Mr. Minnis said in a Sunday afternoon press conference. “This is a deadly storm and a monster of a storm.”
The storm had grown larger, with hurricane force winds extending up to 45 miles out from Dorian’s center. It had maximum sustained winds of about 185 miles an hour, and was moving west at about 7 miles an hour.
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In Florida, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for low-lying and other at-risk areas in Martin and Palm Beach counties, including the area where President
’s Mar-a-Lago resort is located.
Though forecasts show the storm is unlikely to make landfall in the state, that remains a possibility, the hurricane center said. A tropical storm warning was in effect from Deerfield Beach north to Sebastian Inlet. The storm is forecast to then march north toward Georgia and the Carolinas, causing flooding and strong winds.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
on Saturday urged state residents to remain vigilant and to heed local officials’ warnings.
“Even if it doesn’t directly strike Florida, this is a big, powerful storm,” he said. “You’re still looking at significant impacts even if the storm remains hugging the coast.”
The Florida counties of Glades, Hendry, Osceola and Palm Beach issued voluntary evacuation orders for low-lying areas, according to the state’s Division of Emergency Management.
In South Carolina,
Gov. Henry McMaster
declared a state of emergency on Saturday. “Given the strength and unpredictability of the storm, we must prepare for every possible scenario,” he said.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp
declared a state of emergency for 12 of the state’s counties.