Hurricane Dorian -a Category 5 storm- touched down on the Abacos Islands on Sunday afternoon.
"The NHC has reported that hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles (45 km) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 km)", NASA officials wrote in its update. It was traveling west at 8 miles per hour according to a 5 a.m. update on Sunday from the National Hurricane Center, but slowed to 7 miles per hour as of an 11 a.m. update.
Over two or three days, the slow-moving hurricane could dump as much as 4 feet (1 meter) of rain, unleash devastating winds and whip up a risky storm surge, said private meteorologist Ryan Maue, seconding some of the most reliable computer models. Dorian is moving toward the west near 8 miles per hour (13 km/h) and a slower westward motion should continue into early next week.
Hurricane and storm surge watches have been issued for Florida's east coast, from Deerfield Beach to the Brevard-Volusia County line, where the water could reach up to 7 feet, forecasters say.
Many models show the storm staying just off Florida's coast Tuesday and then skirting the coasts of Georgia and North and SC.
Dorian was expected to pound the islands with up to two days of torrential rain, high waves and winds.
"A vessel departed at 5.30am from Grand Cay with 58 persons onboard in route to Grand Bahama", said Captain Stephen Russell, director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
With sustained winds as high as 257kmh, Dorian strengthened to Category 5, the highest intensity level, ahead of its strike on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.
Women sit on cots inside a church now serving as a shelter for residents who will wait out Hurricane Dorian in Freeport on Grand Bahama, Bahamas, September 1, 2019.
Preparations are under way to prepare for the massive storm. But current forecasts have it turning north Monday evening.
Hurricane Dorian as it approaches the Bahamas1 September 2019.
The US Coast Guard said large commercial vessels should plan to leave ports from south Florida to Savannah, Georgia, and advised pleasure craft to seek safe harbor.
The latest forecast is for Dorian to hit Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas Sunday through Monday with devastating winds, life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall.
More live updates could be added to the schedule throughout the day.
"We've been through it before, so we know how to prepare", said Grand Bahama chocolate shop owner Amanda Ormerod, who was busy storing paperwork, covering machinery and eating her perishable ice cream sandwiches.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned the state's densely populated Atlantic coast: "We're not out of the woods yet".
Hurricane Dorian expected wind speeds.
When storms move slowly, they have time to drop a lot of rain.
He continued: "I can say that in the Marsh Harbour area of Abaco, parts of it is already underwater and in some areas you cannot tell the difference as to the beginning of the street or where the ocean begins".
Dorian's exact path remains uncertain but a state of emergency has been declared in four U.S. states: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Disney World and Orlando's other resorts held off announcing any closings.
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