Officials in the northwestern Bahamas ordered the evacuation of low-lying areas and opened shelters in churches and schools on Saturday as they braced for a potential direct hit from an intensifying Hurricane Dorian.
The storm, which packed winds of nearly 145 miles per hour on Saturday, was expected to hit Grand Bahama Island and the Abaco Islands on Sunday and linger there into Monday before heading toward Florida’s east coast.
The National Hurricane Center warned that because the storm’s movement had slowed, the area should prepare for “a prolonged period of life-threatening storm surge and devastating hurricane-force winds.”
Tracking Dorian’s Path
Maps tracking the hurricane’s path as it makes its way toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
The storm was expected to cause surges of more than 15 feet, Bahamian officials said.
“It could have disastrous results for the island of Grand Bahama,” Kwasi Thompson, the minister of state, told The Associated Press.
The area lying in Dorian’s path is not a major center for tourism, although several cruise ships diverted their routes to avoid the storm. Hotels in the region were largely closed already for the low season.
Throughout the Bahamas — a chain of more than 700 islands, some only a few feet above sea level — motorists lined up for gas, residents thronged grocery stores and workers filled sandbags and boarded up windows. Tourists fled or moved to higher ground. Bottled water was in high demand as store shelves quickly emptied.
Dorian intensified to a Category 4 storm late Friday as it moved toward the United States, and forecasters were projecting a sharp swerve north along Florida’s east coast before it comes ashore in the United States. Dorian could now make landfall in Georgia or the Carolinas later next week after losing some of its strength.