Dorian became the strongest storm on record to strike the Bahamas Sunday and among the top few most intense ever observed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Category 5 storm is targeting to bring hurricane force winds, coastal flooding and heavy rain to the east coast of Florida and Southeast U.S.
Travelling at a disastrously slow speed of 5 miles per hour, is generating “catastrophic conditions” in the northern Bahamas with wind gusts up to 225 mph, a storm surge, the storm-driven rise in ocean water above normally dry land, of 18 to 23 feet, and up to 30 inches of rain.
Dorian is expected to remain over the Bahamas for some thirty hours as it buffets the islands with average winds of over a hundred miles per hour.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, during a press conference on Sunday afternoon pleaded with residents on the island of Grand Bahama to leave high risk zones immediately.
"Grand Bahama, those individuals in the West End area, this is your last warning. We have made all necessary arrangements, at least 13 shelters available.”
“May God bless us all,” said Minnis, who said that residents of the Abacos who refused voluntary evacuation are in for the “long haul.”
“This is probably the most saddened and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people.“I just want to say as a physician, I've been trained to withstand many things but never anything like this.We are facing a hurricane, one that we've never seen in the history of the Bahamas. There will be gusts in excess of 200mph. We have some of the best standards of home-building within this region.
“Our homes are built to withstand at least 150mph so this will put us to the test thatwe have never confronted before. The extreme surge of about 20ft... that’s higher than the average roof of our homes here in the Bahamas.
“This is a deadly storm and a monster storm," he continued, "on two previous occasions I have asked Bahamians to leave the cays and in the west and east.
“Many have not heed my warning, many are left behind, there are individuals in the western area who still refuse to leave. I can only say to them that I hope this is not the last time they will hear my voice and may God be with them.
WATCH: the Consul General in Atlanta gave us this video showing the devastation of #HurricaneDorian in the Bahamas already. She has been getting constant updates from loved ones @cbs46 pic.twitter.com/bTz6AGSV2j— Jasmina Alston (@JasminaAlstonTV) September 1, 2019
While Florida and areas farther north await effects from the monster storm, a “catastrophic” scenario is unfolding in the northwestern Bahamas, where the storm’s eyewall, the ring of destructive winds around the center, struck Sunday.
The storm made landfall at 12:40 p.m. ET in Elbow Cay, Abacos. The Hurricane Center reported the storm is “heading with all its fury toward Grand Bahama” where catastrophic hurricane conditions are predicted Sunday night.
On Great Abaco, the Hurricane Center warned of a “life-threatening situation” through Sunday evening. Specifically, the storm is unleashing wind gusts over 220 mph, along with storm surge flooding of 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels. “These hazards will cause extreme destruction in the affected areas and will continue for several hours,” the Hurricane Center stated.
An early look at some of the devastation so far from #HurricaneDorian on Abaco/Bahamas. Remember that once the calm of the eye moves west the full fury of this 185 MPH Cat. 5 returns and it'll last for hours due to the very slow movement.— Mike Seidel (@mikeseidel) September 1, 2019
? @sergionovelli pic.twitter.com/lBYpjeL53m
The storm’s core of devastating wind and torrential rain may sit for an estimated 30 hours over the northern Bahamas as steering currents in the atmosphere collapse, causing Dorian to meander slowly, if not stall outright, for a time.
This forecast scenario could bring devastating wind damage, dump more than two feet of rain in addition to the storm surge of at least 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels.
In short, this is a storm that, depending on its exact track over the northern Bahamas, particularly Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands, could reshape these locations for decades.
As of 5 p.m., the storm was 95 miles east of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island and was crawling west at 5 mph. The storm’s peak winds are 185 mph, and Dorian has maintained Category 4 and now Category 5 intensity for an unusually long period.
Storms this powerful typically tend to undergo cycles that weaken their high-end winds for a time, but Dorian has somehow avoided this dynamic.
Dorian is tied for the second-strongest storm (as judged by its maximum sustained winds) ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, behind Hurricane Allen of 1980, and, after striking the northern Bahamas, tied with the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane for the title of the strongest Atlantic hurricane at landfall.
Dorian is only the second Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the Bahamas since 1983, according to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University. The only other is Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The international hurricane database goes back continuously only to 1983.
The storm’s peak sustained winds rank as the strongest so far north in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida on record. Its pressure, which bottomed out at 910 millibars, is significantly lower than Hurricane Andrew’s when it made landfall in south Florida in 1992 (the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm).
With Dorian attaining Category 5 strength, this is the first time since the start of the satellite era (in the 1960s) that Category 5 storms have developed in the tropical Atlantic in four straight years, according to Capital Weather Gang’s tropical weather expert Brian McNoldy.