Hurricane Dorian has been upgraded by the National Hurricane Center to a ‘catastrophic’ Category Five, the highest on its five-point scale.
The storm, which has sustained winds of 160 mph, is currently heading towards the Bahamas, while the NHC has also warned of a “life-threatening storm surge and very heavy rainfall” in the Great Abaco Islands located east of southern Florida.
NEW: #Dorian is now a category 5 #hurricane with 160 mph sustained winds. The eyewall of this catastrophic hurricane is about to hit the Abaco Islands with devastating winds. Next advisory: https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/oFspgN0XbT
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 1, 2019
At around 8 a.m. EDT Dorian was located approximately 225 miles west of West Palm Beach, Florida, and just 35 miles from the Great Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama – home to around 70,000 people.
“The core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian should be moving over Great Abaco soon, and continue near or over Grand Bahama Island later tonight and Monday. The hurricane should move closer to the Florida east coast late Monday through Tuesday night,” said senior NHS hurricane specialist Lixion Avila.
According to Bloomberg, Florida’s eastern coast is now under a tropical storm watch from Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet.
“The forecast for Florida is improving but nosediving for North and South Carolina,” said Energy Weather Group chief meteorologist, Jim Rouiller late Saturday. “They will probably have to deal with a Category 2 or 3. They are under the gun now.”
Rouiller said for Florida to be in the clear Dorian has to make that crucial turn Monday.
“It is like the 800-pound gorilla in the china shop,” Rouiller said. “I will just wait until the gorilla makes its way out the front door.”
Dorian, one of five storms to form in the Atlantic this year, menaced the U.S. Virgin Islands earlier this week and is about to batter the Bahamas with a storm surge that could reach 15 feet (4.6 meters) above tide levels and 10 to 15 inches of rain. The storm, now at the top of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was thought to be aimed at Florida’s east coast, But more forecast models now predict it will turn north up the coast, possibly even making a landfall in eastern North Carolina Wednesday or Thursday, Rouiller said. –Bloomberg
“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,” said the NWS Sunday morning, adding “There is an increasing risk of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week.”
“Residents in these areas should continue to monitor the progress of Dorian.”
According to NBC News, tourists in the Bahamas have been evacuated to government shelters located in churches and schools.
“Homes, houses, structures can be replaced,” said Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Saturday. “Lives cannot be replaced.“