Hurricane Dorian Updates: Storm Pounds the Bahamas and Threatens Florida

Hurricane Dorian, now a Category 2 storm, finally began to slowly inch away from the Bahamas on Tuesday, after pummeling the islands with unrelenting rain and winds as the United States waited to see what destructive path it would take.

Source: NY Times | Published on September 3, 2019

Louisiana and storms

The storm, which hit the Northern Bahamas as one of the strongest on record in the Atlantic, remained stationary just north of Grand Bahama Island, delivering powerful winds and ceaseless downpours that have flooded neighborhoods, destroyed homes and killed at least five people.

The hurricane, now with 110 m.p.h winds, was expected to start turning north near Florida’s eastern coast by Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

It is highly unusual for a storm of Dorian’s magnitude to halt and hover over land, as it did in the Bahamas.

Some residents were able to send video from the Abaco Islands, which took the full brunt of the hurricane. Stunned residents could be seen among crumpled cars, smashed homes, piles of debris and contorted trees.

On Grand Bahama Island, the waters rose quickly over much of the main city, Freeport, trapping people on top of their houses. Messages pleading for rescue ricocheted over WhatsApp, a messaging app, but the wind gusts and racing currents made it impossible to reach many people.

Grand Bahama was set to endure another day of dire conditions on Tuesday, with storm surges as much as 15 feet above normal tide levels and devastating flooding from up to 30 inches of rain, the National Hurricane Center said.

And though its winds were weakening, the hurricane was also growing in size. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 60 miles from its center on Tuesday morning, and tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 175 miles.

Dorian’s path could threaten Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.

Forecasters said the hurricane would move “dangerously close” to the Florida coast, beginning late Tuesday night and continuing through Wednesday evening. Then, it is expected to continue toward the Georgia and South Carolina coasts beginning late on Wednesday. By the end of the week it is expected to be shadowing the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia.

Even if the hurricane’s center does not reach the Florida coast, strong winds and rain are all but certain to disrupt life in that region. Much of Florida’s eastern coast is also susceptible to dangerous storm surges.

Rain bands and tropical storm level winds pelted Palm Beach County late on Monday and Tuesday morning. The authorities cautioned that residents should remain indoors throughout the day, and people appeared to be heeding the warning. Roads were almost entirely empty under dark gray skies and occasional whistling wind gusts.