Hurricane Dorian intensified once again Sunday as it approached northern Bahamas and has been elevated to a Category 5 storm. In a bulletin Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center said that Dorian’s maximum sustained winds increased to 160 mph, turning it into a “catastrophic” storm that is “about to hit the Abaco Islands with devastating winds.” The hurricane is expected to bring storm surges of as much as 15 to 20 feet and as much as 24 inches of rain in northwestern Bahamas. The expected storm surge poses “serious threat to both life and property across much of the northern Bahamas,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.
The storm continues to move at a fairly slow pace of around eight miles an hour and is expected near the Florida east coast sometime between late Monday and Tuesday. For now, earlier forecasts continue to hold and it seems Florida could avoid a direct hit. But authorities are still warning that even if it stays offshore, the powerful storm could still cause lots of damage. The National Hurricane Center also issued a tropical storm warning for parts of Eastern Florida.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has warned residents not to get complacent due to the latest forecasts that Florida could avoid a direct hit. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. If Dorian gets close to Florida it could still “produce life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds,” he said. “That cone of uncertainty still includes a lot of areas on the east coast of Florida and even into central and north Florida, so we are staying prepared and remaining vigilant.”