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A menacing Hurricane Dorian took 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. Sunday 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 according to Fox News Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean, who said the storm is set to deliver a “devastating blow” to the northwest Bahamas Sunday through Monday.
The location of Hurricane Dorian early Sunday.
“Dorian’s slowing forward motion will keep hurricane conditions over the islands for this prolonged period of time,” Dean said.
HURRICANE DORIAN’S PATH: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
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.
Workers board up a shop’s window front as they make preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian, in Freeport, Bahamas. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Government spokesman Kevin Harris said Sunday that Dorian was 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.
Jeffrey Allen, who lives in Freeport on Grand Bahama, told the Associated Press he had learned after several storms that sometimes predictions of damage don’t materialize, but he still takes precautions.
“It’s almost as if you wait with anticipation, hoping that it’s never as bad as they say it will be. However, you prepare for the worst nonetheless,” he said.
People shop for supplies before the arrival of Hurricane Dorian, in Freeport, Bahamas, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)
Forecasters warn that Dorian’s slow-motion may bring a prolonged period of life-threatening storm surge, devastating hurricane-force winds, and heavy rains capable of producing life-threatening flash floods on the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama through Monday.
Between 12 to 24 inches of rain is forecast for the northwestern Bahamas, with isolated amounts up to 30 inches, according to the NHC. Dorian is also forecast to bring a life-threatening storm surge with water levels raised as much as 15 to 20 feet above normal in areas of onshore winds on the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island.
“Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves,” the NHC said.
The forecast track of Hurricane Dorian. (Fox News)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asked Floridians to keep the Bahamas in their thoughts while also preparing for whatever impacts Dorian may bring.
“The Bahamas are going to get absolutely leveled by this thing because this thing’s a strong storm. The Bahamas are flat,” DeSantis said Saturday. They got no defense to this storm and it’s going to churn over there; it’s going to dump perhaps two feet of rain on the Bahamas.”
DORIAN NEARS BAHAMAS BRINGING 150 MPH WINDS, THREAT OF STORM SURGE; TRUMP WARNS IT COULD BE AMONG ‘STRONGEST’ TO HIT IN DECADES
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis warned that Dorian is a “dangerous storm” and said any “who do not evacuate are placing themselves in extreme danger and can expect a catastrophic consequence.”
Small skiffs shuttled Saturday between outlying fishing communities and McLean’s Town, a settlement of a few dozen homes at the eastern end of Grand Bahama island, about 150 miles from Florida’s Atlantic coast. Most people came from Sweeting Cay, a fishing town of a few hundred people about 5 feet above sea level.
“We’re not taking no chances,” Margaret Bassett, a ferry boat driver for the Deep Water Cay resort, told the AP. “They said evacuate, you have to evacuate.”
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The slow-moving storm may take until Monday afternoon to pass over the Bahamas, and then turn sharply and skirt up the U.S. coast, possibly staying just off Florida and Georgia on Tuesday and Wednesday and then affecting South Carolina and North Carolina on Thursday.
The uncertainties of where Hurricane Dorian could turn north and possibly impact the Southeast coast of the U.S. (Fox News)
But forecasters warn that Dorian’s path could easily shift and bring some of the worst conditions to coastal locations.
“If there is a difference in the track by 30 miles, that’s the difference between tropical-storm-force and hurricane winds,” Dean said Sunday on “Fox & Friends.” That’s why we have to wait for every forecast.”
Fox News’ Melissa Leon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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