With peak winds of 185 mph, Hurricane Dorian is the strongest storm on record to strike the Bahamas, and threatens to bring hurricane force winds, coastal flooding and other impacts to the east coast of Florida and Southeast U.S.
As the storm closes in on Florida’s east coast, the National Hurricane Center has posted hurricane and storm surge warnings for some areas. The hurricane warning stretches from Jupiter Inlet (just north of West Palm Beach) to the Volusia/Brevard county line (just north of Titusville). The storm surge warning spans from near West Palm Beach to Titusville. The storm surge refers to the storm-driven rise in ocean water above normally dry land. In some areas the surge could reach 4 to 7 feet, the Hurricane Center projects.
These warnings are focused on the period from Monday night through early Wednesday.
Although the center of Dorian, containing its extreme Category 5 winds, may remain offshore, its forecast track so close to the coast necessitated the warnings. “A small deviation to the left of the track could bring the intense core of the hurricane its dangerous winds closer to or onto the Florida coast,” the Hurricane Center wrote in its 5 p.m. discussion Sunday.
A “catastrophic” scenario is unfolding in the northwestern Bahamas, where the storm’s eyewall, the ring of destructive winds around the center, struck Sunday. The storm made landfall at 12:40 p.m. ET in Elbow Cay, Abacos. The Hurricane Center reported the storm is “heading with all its fury toward Grand Bahama.”
“This is a life-threatening situation. Residents there should take immediate shelter. Do not venture into the eye if it passes over your location,” the Hurricane Center warned. Specifically, the storm is unleashing wind gusts over 220 mph, along with storm surge flooding of 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels.
“These hazards will cause extreme destruction in the affected areas and will continue for several hours,” the NHC stated.
The storm is moving slowly toward Florida and the Southeast United States, but its exact track remains somewhat uncertain, with computer models shifting the storm slightly closer to the coast early Sunday compared with Saturday.
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