Dorian, a Category 5 storm that has become the strongest hurricane on modern record to hit the northwestern Bahamas, thrashed the Abaco Islands on Sunday with “catastrophic winds and storm surge,” according to the National Hurricane Center.
In an earlier update, federal forecasters had warned that the storm had become extremely intense, and cautioned people to remain alert even though current predictions don’t have the storm making landfall on the U.S. mainland.
“A small deviation to the left of the track could bring the intense core of the hurricane and its dangerous winds closer to or onto the coast,” they said.
Forecasters said the core of the storm was slowing as it continued to sweep through the Bahamas, with Dorian expected to move near to or over Grand Bahama Island late Sunday and into Monday. It is then predicted to take a northward turn toward Florida’s east coast, where some coastal residents have been put under evacuation orders.
“Dorian is expected to remain a catastrophic hurricane during the next few days,” forecasters said in a 2 p.m. update.
prime minister of the Bahamas, called Dorian a historic storm that could bring storm surges washing over some island rooftops. He worried about island residents who hadn’t heeded calls to move to safety.
“This will put us to a test that we’ve never confronted before,” Mr. Minnis said in a Sunday afternoon press conference. “This is a deadly storm and a monster of a storm.”
Darren Henfield, the Bahamas foreign minister, said in a video posted on Twitter that he had participated in efforts in the Abaco Islands to evacuate people from damaged homes and buildings.
“We’re doing our best,” he said. “We’re strong, and we’re going to be OK.”
The National Hurricane Center on Sunday called Dorian’s battering of the Abaco Islands “a life-threatening situation.”
The storm had grown larger, with hurricane force winds extending up to 45 miles out from Dorian’s center. It had maximum sustained winds of about 185 miles an hour, with some gusts over 220 mph, and was moving west at about 5 mph.
In Florida, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for low-lying and other at-risk areas in Brevard, Martin and Palm Beach, St. Johns, St. Lucie and Volusia counties, including the area in Palm Beach where President
’s Mar-a-Lago resort is located. Other counties, including Flagler, Glades and Osceola, issued voluntary evacuation orders for some areas, according to the state’s Division of Emergency Management.
Though forecasts show the storm is unlikely to make landfall in the state, that remains a possibility, the hurricane center said. A hurricane warning was in effect from Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County to the Volusia-Brevard County line in central Florida. The storm is forecast to then march north toward Georgia and the Carolinas, causing flooding and strong winds.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
said Sunday the storm remained a serious threat to the state and urged residents to prepare for it and heed local officials’ instructions.
“The strength of this storm cannot be underestimated,” he said. “If you look at the forecast, it absolutely could impact the coast and turn once it hits the coast. So we’ve got to prepare for that eventuality.”
The governors of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina declared states of emergency.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued mandatory evacuation orders starting at noon on Monday for coastal residents in eight counties. The evacuations also applied to health-care facilities licensed by the state. He called for schools and government offices in those counties to close, starting Tuesday.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the storm already is kicking up dangerous surf and riptides along the state’s coast. “Right now, Hurricane Dorian is fierce,” Mr. Cooper said. “North Carolina has to take this seriously. Be ready.”
During a briefing at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters Sunday afternoon, Mr. Trump said the hurricane’s effects “will be felt hundreds of miles or more from the eye of the storm and long before it potentially makes landfall.” The president said most of the Eastern Seaboard will be affected, “and some of it very, very severely.”
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Have you had to prepare for a hurricane or major storm? What helped you weather through it? Join the conversation below.
Dorian’s changing trajectory convinced some travel providers to revise their contingency efforts. Orlando International Airport dropped plans to close on Monday, citing the reduced likelihood of the storm hitting central Florida.
Airlines added extra flights over the weekend and eased restrictions on ticket changes, though some carriers closed services to prevent aircraft and crews being caught by the storm.
one of the biggest operators at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, had canceled a fifth of its total flights Sunday, according to FlightAware, an air travel tracking service.
the acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the track of Dorian remained uncertain near Florida and the south Atlantic seaboard and he urged residents in its path to remain vigilant.
“Don’t dismiss this storm. We are not out of it,” Mr. Gaynor said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Life-threatening, dangerous surge, water, wind is coming your way. Take the time now to prepare you and your family.”
Mr. Gaynor was asked about the Trump administration’s recent decision to shift more than $100 million in federal disaster aid to provide for more detention beds for migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border. He said the shift was “not affecting our preparedness whatsoever for Dorian.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary
said Sunday that federal money earmarked for transfer from disaster relief to border issues hadn’t yet been moved and that there had been no impact on the government’s ability to respond to the hurricane because of it.
“There will be no impact of the potential reprogramming on our ability to respond to this storm,” Mr. McAleenan said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Mr. McAleenan said the Disaster Recovery Fund contains approximately $25 billion and that the potential reallocation of resources to the southwest border amounted to about $155 million.
—Dan Molinski, Andrew Restuccia, Doug Cameron, Ken Thomas and Gordon Lubold contributed to this article.