Dorian strengthens to Category 5 hurricane, marches west toward USA’s East Coast – USA TODAY
Dorian is forecast to be a Category 4 as it continues to track toward Florida.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Hurricane Dorian roared to “catastrophic” Category 5 status Sunday with sustained winds of 160 mph on an unrelenting march toward the nation’s East Coast.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm had rolled to within 225 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida, as of 8 a.m. and was heading west at about 8 mph. The storm was expected to turn north, and it remained unclear where landfall might occur.
A long stretch of the coast including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina remained in play.
“A slower westward motion should occur for the next day or two, followed by a gradual turn toward the northwest,” the center said in an advisory. “The hurricane should move closer to the Florida east coast late Monday through Tuesday night.”
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the former governor, warned Floridians not to let down their guard amid forecasts that the storm, once ticketed to crash through his state, appeared poised to strike farther north.
“If this hurricane turns at the last minute and heads due west, you’ve gotta ask yourself, ‘Am I ready?'” Scott tweeted. “Don’t take a chance.”
Stay updated on Hurricane Dorian: Get USA TODAY’s Daily Briefing in your inbox
On the current track, the center of the storm was forecast to crash across the Abaco Islands, then continue near or over Grand Bahama Island later tonight and Monday.
The Bahamas were under siege, with storm surge in some areas expected to exceed 10 feet in some areas, posing “serious threat to both life and property across much of the northern Bahamas,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.
The slow pace of the storm meant some areas could be drenched by up to two feet of rain, Buckingham said.
As the Bahamas braced for the worst, the Ministry of Labour warned businesses that “laws regarding price gouging and price hoarding will be scrupulously enforced” over the next several days.
Dorian is powerful but compact. Satellite images of Dorian portray the hurricane as a relatively small feature, with hurricane-force winds “only” extending out from the center by about 30 miles, while tropical storm-force winds extend outward from the center of the hurricane by about 105 miles, AccuWeather said. This is only about half of what is average for a hurricane.
“I’ve seen a lot of storms bigger than that,” said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “When it gets close to the coast, people have a tendency just to look at the center, but you have to think of it as bigger.”
Some Floridians were cautiously optimistic. A mandatory evacuation order for parts of Martin County was rescinded. A similar order for Brevard County’s barrier island was postponed for by 24 hours – from 8 a.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Monday.
President Donald Trump was receiving briefings on Hurricane Dorian from the presidential retreat at Camp David. Vice President Mike Pence said Trump and others in the administration are watching the storm closely.
“It’s an extremely dangerous hurricane, and while some are reporting changes in the track, anyone in the path of Hurricane Dorian should listen to state and local and first responders and public safety personnel and heed their warnings,” Pence said.
Contributing: Doug Stanglin; The Associated Press