Tag Archives: Hurricane

Hurricane Dorian triggers ‘national crisis’ in Bahamas

THE slow-moving hurricane that hit the Bahamas with winds of 185 mph this week has been described as “an unimaginable living nightmare”.

Bishop Theophilus Rolle, President of the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands Conference of the Methodist Church, said that Hurricane Dorian had caused massive flooding and devastation. Seven people are so far known to have died, but the number is expected to rise.

Many people had left their homes to shelter in churches and community centres. Hundreds of photos of people believed to be missing after the hurricane have been posted on social media by friends and family.

Bishop Rolle told the World Council of Churches: “Hurricane Dorian has been an unimaginable living nightmare for many people; especially the 7,300 people living in Grand Bahama and Abaco in the northern Bahamas.”

He said the island of Abaco — where all the deaths so far have been recorded —was “almost demolished” by the winds, which were the highest ever to make landfall.

“Without question, the Bahamas is facing the unfolding of a national crisis. We will need tremendous help from our neighbours in the Caribbean region, the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and around the world.”

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said that some areas had been “decimated” and described Dorian’s destruction as “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history”.

The first images from helicopters taken after the hurricane showed lakes of water and debris, with very little left standing.

“Its total devastation. Its decimated. Apocalyptic,” Lia Head-Rigby, who runs a local hurricane relief organisation, told the Associated Press.

The International Red Cross fears that 45 per cent of homes on Grand Bahama and the Abacos — 13,000 properties — have been severely damaged or destroyed. At least 60,000 people will need food aid and clean water, UN officials say, but airports are under metres of water, and no aid is yet able to get through.

Radio stations reported receiving thousands of distress messages from residents, including one of a five-month-old baby stranded on a roof, and a woman and her six grandchildren who had cut a hole in a roof to escape floodwaters.

Hurricane Dorian has been unusually slow-moving, sitting for two days over the Bahamas, which has allowed it to cause extensive damage. It finally left the country on Tuesday afternoon to edge its way to the US coastline, where communities have been boarding up homes and churches and evacuating vulnerable areas. One church in Georgia has taken in 40 health-care workers with their elderly patients, from a nursing home in a low-lying coastal area that had to be evacuated.

A hurricane relief fund has been set up by the Episcopal Relief and Development agency to help the Bahamas, and Episcopalian bishops along the south coast of the US are urging congregations to donate.


‘Total devastation’: Hurricane slams parts of the Bahamas

Relief officials reported scenes of utter ruin Tuesday in parts of the Bahamas and rushed to deal with an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm on record ever to hit the islands. At least seven deaths were reported, with the full scope of the disaster still unknown.

The storm’s punishing winds and muddy brown floodwaters destroyed or severely damaged thousands of homes, crippled hospitals and trapped people in attics.

“It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic,” said Lia Head-Rigby, who helps run a local hurricane relief organization and flew over the Bahamas’ hard-hit Abaco Islands. “It’s not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again.”

She said her representative on Abaco told her that there were “a lot more dead” and that the bodies were being gathered. The prime minister also expected more deaths and predicted that rebuilding would require “a massive, coordinated effort.”

“We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history,” Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told a news conference. “No effort or resources will be held back.”

With their heads bowed against heavy wind and rain, rescuers began evacuating people from the storm’s aftermath across Grand Bahama late Tuesday, using jet skis, boats and even a huge bulldozer that cradled children and adults in its digger as it cut through deep waters and carried them to safety.

One rescuer gently scooped up an elderly man in his arms and walked toward a pickup truck waiting to evacuate him and others to higher ground.

Practically parking over a portion of the Bahamas for a day and a half, Dorian pounded the northern Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama with winds up to 185 mph (295 kph) and torrential rain before finally moving into open waters Tuesday on a course for Florida. Its winds were down to a still-dangerous 110 mph (175 kph), making it a Category 2 storm.

Over 2 million people along the coast in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina were warned to evacuate. While the threat of a direct hit on Florida had all but evaporated, Dorian was expected to pass dangerously close to Georgia and South Carolina — and perhaps strike North Carolina — on Thursday or Friday.

Even if landfall does not occur, the system is likely to cause storm surge and severe flooding, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

“Don’t tough it out. Get out,” said U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency official Carlos Castillo.

In the Bahamas, Red Cross spokesman Matthew Cochrane said more than 13,000 houses, or about 45% of the homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco, were believed to be severely damaged or destroyed. U.N. officials said more than 60,000 people on the hard-hit islands will need food, and the Red Cross said some 62,000 will need clean drinking water.

“What we are hearing lends credence to the fact that this has been a catastrophic storm and a catastrophic impact,” Cochrane said.

Lawson Bates, a staffer for Arkansas-based MedicCorps, flew over Abaco and said: “It looks completely flattened. There’s boats way inland that are flipped over. It’s total devastation.”

The Red Cross authorized $500,000 for the first wave of disaster relief, Cochrane said. And U.N. humanitarian teams stood ready to go into the stricken areas to help assess damage and the country’s needs, U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said. The U.S. government also sent a disaster response team.

Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, with a combined population of about 70,000, are known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts. To the south, the Bahamas’ most populous island, New Providence, which includes the capital city, Nassau, and has over a quarter-million people, suffered little damage.

The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people injured on Abaco. Choppy, coffee-colored floodwaters reached roofs and the tops of palm trees.

“We will confirm what the real situation is on the ground,” Health Minister Duane Sands said. “We are hoping and praying that the loss of life is limited.”

Sands said Dorian rendered the main hospital on Grand Bahama unusable, while the hospital in Marsh Harbor in Abaco was in need of food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He said crews were trying to airlift five to seven kidney failure patients from Abaco who had not received dialysis since Friday.

The Grand Bahama airport was under 6 feet (2 meters) of water.

As of 8 p.m. EDT, Dorian was centered about 110 miles (180 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was moving northwest at 6 mph (7 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended up to 60 miles (95 kilometers) from its center.

The coastline from north of West Palm Beach, Florida, through Georgia was expected to get 3 to 6 inches of rain, with 9 inches in places, while the Carolinas could get 5 to 10 inches and 15 in spots, the National Hurricane Center said.

NASA satellite imagery through Monday night showed some places in the Bahamas had gotten as much as 35 inches (89 centimeters) of rain, said private meteorologist Ryan Maue.

Parliament member Iram Lewis said he feared waters would keep rising and stranded people would lose contact with officials as their cellphone batteries died.

Dorian also left one person dead in its wake in Puerto Rico before slamming into the Bahamas on Sunday. It tied the record for the strongest Atlantic storm ever to hit land, matching the Labor Day hurricane that struck Florida Gulf Coast in 1935, before storms were given names.

Across the Southeast, interstate highways leading away from the beach in South Carolina and Georgia were turned into one-way evacuation routes. Several airports announced closings, and hundreds of flights were canceled. Walt Disney World in Orlando closed in the afternoon, and SeaWorld shut down.

Police in coastal Savannah, Georgia, announced an overnight curfew. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper ordered a mandatory evacuation of the dangerously exposed barrier islands along the state’s entire coast.

Having seen storms swamp his home on the Georgia coast in 2016 and 2017, Joey Spalding of Tybee Island decided to empty his house and stay at a friend’s apartment nearby rather than take any chances with Dorian.

He packed a U-Haul truck with tables, chairs, a chest of drawers, tools — virtually all of his furnishings except for his mattress and a large TV — and planned to park it on higher ground. He also planned to shroud his house in plastic wrap up to shoulder height and pile sandbags in front of the doors.

“In this case, I don’t have to come into a house full of junk,” he said. “I’m learning a little as I go.”


Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Weissenstein from Nassau, Bahamas. Associated Press reporters Tim Aylen in Freeport; Russ Bynum in Georgia; and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.


UNGA president voices solidarity with Hurricane Dorian victims

UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces has expressed solidarity with the victims of and those affected by Hurricane Dorian, which has wreaked havoc in the Bahamas in the Caribbean.

Espinosa, in a tweet Monday, regretted the destruction and devastation caused by the hurricane in the Bahamas, which has so far caused five deaths and left at least 20 people injured.

She said the situation is being very closely monitored and urged the international community to stand ready to help.

Within the past few years, the Bahamas had been severely affected by at least three major hurricanes, all category four storms or above.

The impact of Hurricanes Joaquin (2015), Matthew (2016), and Irma (2017) on the Bahamas had been reported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean to cost approximately 820 million U.S. dollars.


Holiday state cowers before the power of hurricane’s 300kmh gusts

Hurricane Dorian has slammed into the Bahamas with the full ferocity of a monstrous Category 5 cyclone.

It became the strongest storm ever to hit the island chain and the fiercest to traverse the Atlantic in nearly a century.

With sustained winds of nearly 300kmh when it made landfall – and gusts well above 320kmh – it remains powerful and unpredictable.

Forecasts predict Dorian will hit the South Florida coastline today, but what happens after that is still uncertain.

Hurricane Dorian could cause insurance industry losses of up to $25bn (€23.8bn), according to analysts at UBS.

Authorities ordered more than a million people evacuated in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

Should the storm make landfall in the peninsula, it could be catastrophic.

If it veers north and lumbers along the coast, it might not make a US landfall at all – but it could still bring extreme storm surge, massive rains and hurricane-force winds to much of the Eastern Seaboard throughout the week.

Dorian has been mercurial, slipping east of Puerto Rico to spare it yet another assault, and skipping across the Virgin Islands without leaving much damage in its wake.

Though at times predicted to make a direct hit on Florida’s Space Coast – still a possibility – the storm appears potentially headed for a turn that would put Georgia and the Carolinas at risk.

Governors Henry McMaster of South Carolina and Brian Kemp of Georgia ordered mandatory evacuations from yesterday of their states’ coasts.

The wobble the monster storm took on Saturday, nudging it in a slightly different direction, seems to have convinced a lot of weather- weary Floridians they are in the clear.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis however urged residents not to be complacent because of the shifting storm track, as he and officials across several states issued pleas for people potentially in Dorian’s way to relocate.

“This storm, at this magnitude, could really cause massive destruction, and do not put your life in jeopardy when you have a chance to get out,” Mr DeSantis said.

“We are in a situation where this thing is perilously close to the state.”

He warned the storm’s 300kmh winds exceed those of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, which demolished the Miami suburb of Homestead, and last year’s Hurricane Michael, which wiped out the small town of Mexico Beach.

If the current winds continue, Mr DeSantis said, Dorian would rival the Labour Day hurricane of 1935, which destroyed the Florida Keys and is considered the strongest hurricane on record in the United States. It killed about 500 people.

Eric Silagy, chief executive of Florida Power and Light, the largest public utility in the state, urged residents to “respect Mother Nature”.

“I think it is foolish to just rely on what is an estimate of a track that is offshore on a storm of this magnitude,” Mr Silagy said.

“A few miles can make a big difference in wind speeds. If this storm continues on a western track and makes landfall there would be significant destruction. We’d have to rebuild part of our system. Concrete poles would be snapped in these kinds of winds. Homes would be destroyed.”

Ronald Harris (76), a native Floridian – who had predicted on Saturday the storm would miss the state – said on Sunday: “I got up this morning and looked at the radar and briefings and said ‘Oh no!’

“I came to the rational conclusion that I don’t want to lose all my junk,” said the retired engineer.

“I’ve been forced to clean up my yard, put the hurricane shutters up on my 14-foot front windows.

“Mother Nature said ‘Ron, you pompous little so-and-so…’ I’m not fearless, but I’m not stupid, either.”

“It’s going to miss us,” said Sherita Davis (48). “But we’ll get all the outer bands. The usual Florida. The winds. The rain.”

President Donald Trump, after a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, asked everyone in Dorian’s path to pay close attention to the dangerous storm, and to heed all warnings and evacuation orders.

He said the federal government’s top priorities as Dorian approaches the United States are to provide lifesaving and life-sustaining support to augment state and local efforts.

“We don’t even know what’s coming at us,” Mr Trump said. “I am not sure that I’ve ever even heard of the Category 5, I knew it existed. That’s the ultimate, and that’s what we have, unfortunately.”


Dorian triggers massive flooding in Bahamas; at least 5 dead

Hurricane Dorian unleashed massive flooding across the Bahamas on Monday, pummeling the islands with so much wind and water that authorities urged people to find floatation devices and grab hammers to break out of their attics if necessary. At least five deaths were blamed on the storm.

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in announcing the fatalities. He called the devastation “unprecedented and extensive.”

The fearsome Category 4 storm slowed almost to a standstill as it shredded roofs, hurled cars and forced even rescue crews to take shelter until the onslaught passed.

Officials said they received a “tremendous” number of calls from people in flooded homes. A radio station received more than 2,000 distress messages, including reports of a 5-month-old baby stranded on a roof and a grandmother with six grandchildren who cut a hole in a roof to escape rising floodwaters. Other reports involved a group of eight children and five adults stranded on a highway and two storm shelters that flooded.

The deaths in the Bahamas came after a previous storm-related fatality in Puerto Rico. At least 21 people were hurt in the Bahamas and evacuated by helicopters, the prime minster said.

Police Chief Samuel Butler urged people to remain calm and share their GPS coordinates, but he said rescue crews had to wait until weather conditions improved.

“We simply cannot get to you,” he told Bahamas radio station ZNS.

Forecasters warned that Dorian could generate a storm surge as high as 23 feet (7 meters).

Meanwhile in the United States, the National Hurricane Center extended watches and warnings across the Florida and Georgia coasts. Forecasters expected Dorian to stay off shore, but meteorologist Daniel Brown cautioned that “only a small deviation” could draw the storm’s dangerous core toward land.

By 10 p.m. EDT Monday, the storm’s top sustained winds had fallen to 140 mph (220 kph), still within Category 4 range. It was still virtually stationary, centered just 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Freeport — about the same distance from the city it had been at noon. Hurricane-force winds extended outward as far as 45 miles (75 kilometers) from the center

The water reached roofs and the tops of palm trees. One woman filmed water lapping at the stairs of her home’s second floor.

In Freeport, Dave Mackey recorded video showing water and floating debris surging around his house as the wind shrieked outside.

“Our house is 15 feet up, and right now where that water is is about 8 feet. So we’re pretty concerned right now because we’re not at high tide,” said Mackey, who shared the video with The Associated Press. “Our garage door has already come off. … Once we come out of it with our lives, we’re happy.”

On Sunday, Dorian churned over Abaco Island with battering winds and surf and heavy flooding.

Parliament member Darren Henfield described the damage as “catastrophic” and said officials did not have information on what happened on nearby cays. “We are in search-and-recovery mode. … Continue to pray for us.”

A spokesman for Bahamas Power and Light told ZNS that there was a blackout in New Providence, the archipelago’s most populous island. He said the company’s office in Abaco island was flattened.

“The reports out of Abaco as everyone knows,” spokesman Quincy Parker said, pausing for a deep sigh, “were not good.”

Most people went to shelters as the storm neared. Tourist hotels shut down, and residents boarded up their homes. Many people were expected to be left homeless.

On Sunday, Dorian’s maximum sustained winds reached 185 mph (297 kph), with gusts up to 220 mph (354 kph), tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to make landfall. That equaled the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before storms were named. The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 mph (305 kph) winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.

Parliament member Darren Henfield described the damage as “catastrophic” and said officials did not have information on what happened on nearby cays. “We are in search-and-recovery mode. … Continue to pray for us.”

A spokesman for Bahamas Power and Light told ZNS that there was a blackout in New Providence, the archipelago’s most populous island. He said the company’s office in Abaco island was flattened.

“The reports out of Abaco as everyone knows,” spokesman Quincy Parker said, pausing for a deep sigh, “were not good.”

Most people went to shelters as the storm neared. Tourist hotels shut down, and residents boarded up their homes. Many people were expected to be left homeless.

On Sunday, Dorian’s maximum sustained winds reached 185 mph (297 kph), with gusts up to 220 mph (354 kph), tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to make landfall. That equaled the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before storms were named. The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 mph (305 kph) winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.

The Bahamas archipelago is no stranger to hurricanes. Homes are required to have metal reinforcements for roof beams to withstand winds into the upper limits of a Category 4 hurricane, and compliance is generally tight for those who can afford it. Risks are higher in poorer neighborhoods that have wooden homes in low-lying areas.

Dorian was likely to begin pulling away from the Bahamas early Tuesday and curving to the northeast parallel to the southeastern coast of the U.S. The system is expected to spin 40 to 50 miles (64 to 80 kilometers) off Florida, with hurricane-force wind speeds extending about 35 miles (56 kilometers) to the west.

An advisory from the hurricane center warned that Florida’s east-central coast could see a brief tornado sometime Monday afternoon or evening.

A mandatory evacuation of entire South Carolina coast took effect Monday covering about 830,000 people.

Transportation officials reversed all lanes of Interstate 26 from Charleston to head inland earlier than planned after noticing traffic jams from evacuees and vacationers heading home on Labor Day, Gov. Henry McMaster said.

“We can’t make everybody happy, but we believe we can keep everyone alive,” the governor said.

A few hours later, Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, ordered mandatory evacuations for that state’s Atlantic coast, also starting at midday Monday.

Authorities in Florida ordered mandatory evacuations in some vulnerable coastal areas. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned his state that it could see heavy rain, winds and floods later in the week.

A hurricane watch was in effect for Florida’s East Coast from Deerfield Beach north to South Santee River in South Carolina. A storm surge watch was extended northward to South Santee River in South Carolina. Lake Okeechobee was under a tropical storm watch.

A National Guard official, John Anderson, said many people were complying with the evacuation orders.

“We have not seen much resistance at all,” he said in a phone call with reporters. People do understand that Dorian is nothing to mess around with.”


Dorian strikes Bahamas with record fury as Category 5 storm

Hurricane Dorian struck the northern Bahamas as a catastrophic Category 5 storm Sunday, its record 297 kph winds ripping off roofs, overturning cars and tearing down power lines as hundreds hunkered down in schools, churches and shelters.

Dorian slammed into Elbow Cay in Abaco island at 12:40pm, and then made a second landfall near Marsh Harbour at 2 pm, after authorities made last-minute pleas for those in low-lying areas to evacuate.

“It’s devastating,” Joy Jibrilu, director general of the Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, said. “There has been huge damage to property and infrastructure. Luckily, no loss of life reported.”

The hurricane was approaching the eastern end of Grand Bahama island in the evening, forecasters said.

With its maximum sustained winds of 297 kph and gusts up to 354 kph, Dorian tied the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to come ashore, equalling the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before the storms were named.

There were indications that the slow-moving Dorian would veer sharply northeastward after passing the Bahamas and track up the US Southeast seaboard.

But authorities warned that even if its core did not make US landfall, the potent storm would likely hammer the coast with powerful winds and heavy surf.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered a mandatory evacuation of the entire coast of the state amid Dorian’s threat.

The order, which covers about 830,000 people, goes into effect at noon Monday, when state troopers will begin reversing lanes so they all head inland on major coastal highways.

“We can’t make everybody happy,” McMaster said. “But we believe we can keep everyone alive.”Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, later ordered mandatory evacuations of that state’s Atlantic coast, also starting at midday Monday.

Authorities in Florida also ordered mandatory evacuations in some vulnerable coastal areas.

More than 600 Labor Day flights in the US had been cancelled as of Sunday afternoon, many of them in Florida as Dorian barrelled toward the state’s coast.

The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 305 kph winds. That storm did not make landfall at that strength.

“Catastrophic conditions” were reported in Abaco, with a storm surge of 5.5-7 metres, and Dorian was expected to cross Grand Bahama later in the day “with all its fury,” the centre said. The hurricane was moving to the west at 7 kph.In the northern stretches of the archipelago, hotels closed, residents boarded up homes and officials hired boats to move people to bigger islands.

Video that Jibrilu and government spokesman Kevin Harris said was sent by Abaco residents showed homes missing parts of their roofs, downed power lines and smashed and overturned cars. One showed floodwaters rushing through the streets of an unidentified town at nearly the height of a car roof.

In some parts of Abaco, “you cannot tell the difference as to the beginning of the street versus where the ocean begins,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said.

According to the Nassau Guardian, he called it “probably the most sad and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people.”

Earlier, Minnis had warned that anyone who did not evacuate was “in extreme danger and can expect a catastrophic consequence.”

The government opened 14 shelters across the Bahamas. Dozens ignored evacuation orders, officials said.

“The end could be fatal,” said Samuel Butler, assistant police commissioner. “We ask you, we beg you, we plead with you to get to a place of safety.”

Bahamas radio station ZNS Bahamas reported a mother and child in Grand Bahama called to say they were sheltering in a closet and seeking help from police.

Silbert Mills, owner of the Bahamas Christian Network, said trees and power lines were torn down in Abaco.

“The winds are howling like we’ve never, ever experienced before,” said Mills, 59, who planned to ride out the hurricane with his family in the concrete home he built 41 years ago in central Abaco.

Earlier Saturday, skiffs shuttled between outlying fishing villages and McLean’s Town, a settlement of a few dozen homes at the eastern end of Grand Bahama island, about 240 kilometres from Florida’s Atlantic coast. Most came from Sweetings Cay.

“They said evacuate, you have to evacuate,” Margaret Bassett, a ferry boat driver for the Deep Water Cay resort, said.

But Jack Pittard, a 76-year-old American who has visited the Bahamas for 40 years, decided to ride out the storm — his first hurricane — in Abaco.

He said he battened down his house to spend the storm in a nearby duplex. He noted the ocean is quite deep near where he was staying, and there is a cay that provides protection.

A short video from Pittard about 2:30 p.m. showed winds shaking his home and ripping off its siding.

Over two or three days, the hurricane could dump as much as 4 feet (1 meter) of rain, in addition to the winds and storm surge, said private meteorologist Ryan Maue.

Harris, the government spokesman, said Dorian could affect 73,000 residents and 21,000 homes. Authorities closed airports for Abaco, Grand Bahama and Bimini, but Lynden Pindling International Airport in the capital of Nassau stayed open.

The archipelago is no stranger to hurricanes. Homes are required to have metal reinforcements for roof beams to withstand winds into the upper limits of a Category 4 hurricane, and compliance is generally tight for those who can afford it. Risks are higher in poorer neighbourhoods, with wooden homes in low-lying areas.

After the Bahamas, the slow-crawling storm was forecast to turn sharply and skirt toward the US coast, staying just off Florida and Georgia on Tuesday and Wednesday and then buffeting South Carolina and North Carolina on Thursday.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for Florida’s East Coast from Deerfield Beach north to the Volusia and Brevard county line. The same area was put under a storm surge watch. Lake Okeechobee was under a tropical storm watch.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned the state’s densely populated Atlantic coast: “We’re not out of the woods yet.

“He suspended tolls on the Florida Turnpike and other roads, including Alligator Alley, from Fort Lauderdale to Naples, to keep traffic flowing for evacuees.DeSantis noted some forecast models still bring Dorian close to or even onto the Florida peninsula.”That could produce life-threatening storm surge and hurricane force winds,” DeSantis 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.

“Mandatory evacuation orders for low-lying and flood-prone areas and mobile homes were in effect starting either Sunday or Monday from Palm Beach County north to at least the Daytona Beach area, and some counties to the north issued voluntary evacuation notices. Weekend traffic was light in Florida despite those orders, unlike during the chaotic run-up to Hurricane Irma in 2017 when the unusually broad storm menaced the entire state.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Dorian is forecast to be 64 to 80 kilometres off the Florida with hurricane-force wind speeds extending about 56 kilometres to the west.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham urged residents not to bet on safety just because the specific forecast track has the storm just a bit offshore.

Don’t focus on the track, he said, but the larger cone of possibility that includes landfall.Complicating matters is that with every new forecast, “we keep nudging (Dorian’s track) a little bit to the left” which is closer to the Florida coast, Graham said.

Dorian is a powerful but small storm with hurricane force winds Sunday only extending 29 miles to the west, but they are expected to grow a bit. That makes forecasting its path delicate and difficult.

President Donald Trump already declared a state of emergency and was briefed about what he called a “monstrous” storm.

“We don’t know where it’s going to hit but we have an idea, probably a little bit different than the original course,” Trump said. “But it can change its course again and it can go back more toward Florida.”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the state could see heavy rain, winds and floods.

The hurricane upended some Labor Day holiday weekend plans in the US: Major airlines allowed travellers to change reservations without fees, big cruise lines rerouted their ships and Cumberland Island National Seashore off Georgia closed to visitors. Disney World and Orlando’s other resorts held off announcing any closings.


At Least 600 US Flights Cancelled for Monday As Dorian Approaches Florida – Report

At least 600 domestic and international flights in the United States scheduled for Monday have been canceled, CNN reported:

At least 119 Monday flights have been canceled at Orlando International Airport; Another 99 have been canceled at Fort Lauderdale International; At least 52 flights at Palm Beach International.


Dorian hammers Bahamas as second strongest Atlantic hurricane on record

 Hurricane Dorian crashed into the Bahamas on Sunday as the second strongest Atlantic storm on record and inched closer to the U.S. mainland, with parts of Florida evacuating and Georgia and the Carolinas bracing for wind and flooding.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Dorian made landfall on Elbow Cay in the Abaco Islands as a Category 5 storm on Sunday with maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour (295 km per hour) and gusts of more than 220 mph (354 kph).

Millions of people from Florida to North Carolina were bracing to see whether Dorian avoids a U.S. landfall and veers north into the Atlantic Ocean. Even a glancing blow from one of the strongest storms ever to menace Florida could bring torrential rains and damaging winds, and “a Florida landfall is still a distinct possibility,” the Miami-based NHC warned.

Bahamas residents reported trees snapping and docks being destroyed before the brunt of the storm arrived. The pummeling was expected to last for hours as the hurricane may slow to just 1 mph, “prolonging its catastrophic effects,” the NHC said.

On Great Guana Cay, just off Great Abaco Island, waves began washing over low-lying parts of the tiny 9-mile (14-km) strand of land that is only about a quarter-mile wide by mid-morning, resident Tom Creenan said.

Although some residents left for Nassau and elsewhere days ago, some 200 to 300 are riding out the storm on Great Guana Cay, where power was already out and forecasters are predicting up to 2 feet (61 cm) of rain and 23-foot (7-meter) storm surges.

“The other day the prime minister came out and said everybody in Abaco should leave,” Creenan said by phone. “But there’s no place to go.”

“This is the strongest hurricane that’s ever hit in the Bahamas,” Creenan said. “I grew up in Florida, so I’ve been through Andrew.”

Hurricane Andrew slammed into eastern Florida in 1992 as a category 5 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, obliterating the town of Homestead.

With winds at 185 mph, Dorian ties with Gilbert (1988), Wilma (2005) and the 1935 Labor Day hurricane for the second strongest Atlantic hurricane on record based on maximum sustained winds. Allen in 1980 was the most powerful with 190-mph winds, the NHC said.

Dorian is the strongest hurricane on record to hit the northwestern Bahamas.

Florida was taking no chances with Dorian and four Florida counties, including Palm Beach County, issued mandatory evacuations for some residents, including those in mobile homes, on barrier islands and in low-lying areas. Other coastal counties have announced voluntary evacuations.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Sunday that the storm would likely impact the eastern seaboard from Florida to North Carolina.

“This looks monstrous,” Trump said during a briefing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “This looks like it could be larger than all of them.”

FEMA is moving food, water and generators into the southeastern United States, said acting Administrator Peter Gaynor.

“When it comes to response, we are more than ready to deal with anything that Dorian delivers us this year, or any other storm that may come this season,” he told CNN.

Meanwhile, a new tropical storm has formed southwest of Mexico and is expected to become a hurricane on Monday. Tropical Storm Juliette is 455 miles (735 km) from Manzanillo, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph), the NHC said on Sunday.


‘Catastrophic conditions’ as Dorian hits northwest Bahamas

Monster storm Dorian unleashed “catastrophic conditions” as it hit the northwestern Bahamas Sunday, becoming the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the region, US forecasters said.

“Catastrophic hurricane conditions are occurring in the Abacos Islands and will spread across Grand Bahama Island later today and tonight,” the National Hurricane Center wrote in its latest bulletin at 3pm (GMT).

Packing maximum sustained winds of 180 miles per hour (285 kph), the NHC said Dorian was now “the strongest hurricane in modern records for the northwestern Bahamas.”

Dorian’s eye has reached 20 miles from the Abaco islands, and the hurricane’s core was expected to move directly over Great Abaco, and possibly Grand Bahama Island later Sunday and Monday, the NHC said.

It would then head for Miami but it was unclear if it would skim the coast and head North, or move inland.


Dorian Strengthens to Category 5 Storm, the Bahamas on Alert

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis begged residents of Abaco and Grand Bahamas to head for the main island to escape the “devastating, dangerous” storm.

Hurricane Dorian intensified into a dangerous category 5 storm as it approached the Bahamas Sunday, expected to pound the islands with up to two days of torrential rain, high waves, and damaging winds before aiming for the U.S. mainland.

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis begged residents of Abaco and Grand Bahamas to head for the main island to escape the “devastating, dangerous” storm.

“I want you to remember: homes, houses, structures can be replaced. Lives cannot be replaced,” he told a news conference Saturday, adding that 73,000 people and 21,000 homes were at risk to storm surges, which are predicted to reach up to 20 feet (6.1 meters).

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Dorian had maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour (260 km per hour) early Sunday and was about 35 miles (55 km) east of Abaco.

After churning over the Bahamas, it is expected to veer northwest toward Florida, with the NHC raising its alert Sunday for parts of the state’s east coast to a tropical storm warning.

While not expected to strike Florida, the NHC said, “a Florida landfall is still a distinct possibility.”

Communities further north in Georgia and South Carolina raised alert levels Saturday, with residents filling sandbags as authorities tested infrastructure and hurricane drills. 

Despite Dorian appearing to spare the United States a direct impact, the NHC warned the Category 5 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale would lash millions from Florida to the Carolinas with strong winds and punishing surf.

Most tourists who planned to leave the Bahamas got out before the main airport closed Friday night.

Jeffrey Simmons, the deputy director of Bahamas’ department of meteorology, said Dorian will cause prolonged periods of large swells and storm surges along the north coast of Grand Bahama and the north and east coast of Abaco.

Potential damage to the Bahamas from Dorian could be exacerbated by the fact that its westward motion is forecast to slow, keeping it over the islands for longer, the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

Grand Bahama and Abaco are hubs of the Bahamas’ thriving tourism industry. But after days of evacuations only 26 tourists are left on Grand Bahama, authorities said Saturday.

“We have been for the last few days asking all tourists to leave the island in anticipation of the hurricane,” said Kwasi Thompson, minister of state for Grand Bahama.

Meanwhile, a new tropical storm has formed southwest of Mexico and is expected to become a hurricane Monday. Tropical Storm Juliette is 455 miles (735 km) from Manzanillo, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph), the NHC said Sunday.