Southeast braces for Dorian as storm intensifies

After pummeling the Abacos Islands, Hurricane Dorian is “heading with all its fury toward Grand Bahama,” the National Hurricane Center said in a 2 p.m. Sunday bulletin.

The Category 5 storm has maximum sustained winds of 185 mph and is about 185 miles east of West Palm Beech, Fla.

A few hours earlier Sunday, the hurricane center said that Dorian is “the strongest hurricane in modern records for the Northwestern Bahamas” and that “catastrophic conditions [are] occuring in the Abacos Islands.”

Category 5 storms are the most powerful on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

A storm surge of up to 15 to 20 feet is possible and as much as 24 inches of rain could fall on the Bahamas, the center warned.

“Dorian is moving toward the west near 7 mph (11 km/h). A slower westward motion should continue for the next day or two, followed by a gradual turn toward the northwest,” the hurricane center said in its 2 p.m. update. “On this track, the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will continue to pound Great Abaco today and the move near or over Grand Bahama Island tonight and Monday. The hurricane should move closer to the Florida east coast late Monday through Tuesday night.”

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the east coast of Florida from north of Deerfield Beach to the Volusia/Brevard County Line, the center said. A Storm Surge Watch is in effect from north of Deerfield Beach to the Volusia/Brevard County Line. A Tropical Storm Watch is in place for Lake Okeechobee.

Dorian remains a threat for much of the U.S. East Coast, from Florida to North Carolina, including Georgia, South Carolina and Southeast Virginia.

Expected rainfall in the Northwestern Bahamas is 12 to 24 inches, with isolated areas receiving up to 30 inches, the hurricane center warned.

By the end of the week, five to 10 inches of rainfall is expected in the Coastal Carolinas, isolations up to 15 inches. This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods, according to the hurricane center.

The Atlantic Coast from the Florida peninsula north through Georgia could see two to four inches of rain, with up to six inches in come areas.

Hurricane conditions are possible in Florida by late Monday or early Tuesday.

“Dorian is a extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane … ” the hurricane center said. “Some fluctuations in intensity are likely, but Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days. Dorian has grown larger in size. Hurricane-force winds extendoutward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km).”

The storms trajectory has confounded forecasters, who say it’s still too early to predict where exactly in the U.S. Dorian will make landfall. They warn, however, that it could make impact with the coastal U.S. in Florida, then turn north and bombard a number of coastal states.