Dorian hits Bahamas as second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record
Titusville — Hurricane Dorian crashed into the Bahamas on Sunday as the second strongest Atlantic storm on record and inched closer to the US, with parts of Florida evacuating and Georgia and the Carolinas bracing for wind and flooding.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Dorian made landfall on Elbow Cay in the Abaco Islands as a Category 5 storm on Sunday with maximum sustained winds of 295km/h and gusts of more than 354km/h.
Millions of people from Florida to North Carolina were bracing to see whether Dorian avoids a US landfall and veers north into the Atlantic Ocean. Even a glancing blow from one of the strongest storms ever to menace Florida could bring torrential rains and damaging winds, and "a Florida landfall is still a distinct possibility", the Miami-based NHC warned.
Residents on Abaco posted video on social media showing flood waters halfway up the sides of single-family homes with parts of the roofs torn off. Car alarms blared across the island, which was littered with twisted metal and splintered wood.
Although some residents left for Nassau and elsewhere days ago, about 200 to 300 are riding out the storm on Great Guana Cay, where power was already out.
"The other day the prime minister came out and said everybody in Abaco should leave," Creenan said by phone. "But there's no place to go."
Dorian ties with Gilbert (1988), Wilma (2005) and the 1935 Labour Day hurricane for the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record based on maximum sustained winds. Allen in 1980 was the most powerful, the NHC said.
Dorian is the strongest hurricane on record to hit the northwestern Bahamas.
In Florida, at least seven counties issued mandatory evacuations for some residents, including those in mobile homes, on barrier islands and in low-lying areas. Palm Beach County, the third most populated county and home to President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, was among those with partial mandatory evacuations. Other counties announced voluntary evacuations.
Trump said on Sunday that the storm would likely impact the eastern seaboard from Florida to North Carolina.
"This looks monstrous," Trump said during a briefing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "This looks like it could be larger than all of them."
FEMA is moving food, water and generators into the southeastern US, said acting administrator Peter Gaynor.
"When it comes to response, we are more than ready to deal with anything that Dorian delivers us this year, or any other storm that may come this season," he told CNN.
Meanwhile, a new tropical storm has formed southwest of Mexico and is expected to become a hurricane on Monday. Tropical storm Juliette is 735km from Manzanillo, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 75 km/h), the NHC said on Sunday.