orian’s eye is only about 20 miles east of Great Abaco Island in the northwest Bahamas, moving west at 5 to 10 mph.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to 180 mph, putting Dorian in a tie for the third-highest sustained wind speed among all Atlantic hurricanes. It’s also the strongest hurricane in modern records for the northwest Bahamas.
Dorian was upgraded to Category 5 status Sunday morning after an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter mission confirmed winds had increased above 157 mph.
The northwest Bahamas are taking the brunt of Dorian’s eyewall right now. A wind gust to 100 mph has been reported in Hope Town in the Abacos of the northwest Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Watches and Warnings
A hurricane warning is in effect for much of the northwestern Bahamas, including Freeport, Grand Bahama, and Nassau, New Providence Island. Andros Island is in a hurricane watch.
A hurricane watch and storm surge watch are now posted for a portion of Florida’s eastern coast, from north of Deerfield Beach to the border between Volusia and Brevard counties.
A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions (winds 75-plus mph) are possible in the watch area. They are posted 48 hours before the first tropical-storm-force winds are expected. The storm surge watch means that a life-threatening inundation is possible in the area during the next 48 hours.
A tropical storm warning is in effect along the east coast of Florida from north of Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet, meaning tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph) are expected within 36 hours. This warning includes West Palm Beach.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for portions of the east coast of Florida from north of Golden Beach to Deerfield Beach as well as Lake Okeechobee.
Tropical storm watches mean winds of 40 mph or greater are possible within 48 hours. This watch includes Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood, Florida.
Dorian’s Forecast Timing
Sunday: Dorian’s hurricane siege will continue in the northwest Bahamas as it continues to slow down. Large swells should begin to arrive at the coast from North Carolina to Florida.
Monday: Dorian will still be hammering the northwest Bahamas as it crawls slowly. Bands of rain, strong winds may affect parts of Florida. Tropical storm-force winds are expected in the tropical storm warning area of eastern Florida. How strong the winds will be depends on how close the center of Dorian is to the Florida coast, which is still uncertain at this time. Battering waves, coastal flooding and beach erosion will increase along the southeast coast of Florida.
Tuesday: Dorian will still be hammering the northwest Bahamas, but conditions, there may slowly improve by night. Bands of rain, strong winds will still affect parts of Florida. Tropical storm-force winds are expected in the tropical storm warning area of eastern Florida. We cannot rule out the potential for hurricane-force winds, depending on how close the center tracks to the coast. Coastal flooding and beach erosion will spread north along the Florida coast.
Wednesday-Thursday: Dorian is expected to move north, then northeast near the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The exact track is very uncertain, ranging from a track far enough offshore to keep hurricane force winds away from land, to a landfall anywhere in this zone. Storm surge flooding, damaging winds and flooding rain are all possible in these areas.
Friday-Saturday: Dorian is then expected to race off the Northeast Seaboard, but could track close enough to bring rain and some wind to the Virginia Tidewater, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, before it heads toward the Canadian Maritimes by next weekend.
Dorian’s Track Uncertainty
Uncertainty continues to be high when it comes to exact forecast impacts in the southeastern U.S. However, all interests from Florida to Georgia, the Carolinas and southeast Virginia should have their hurricane plans ready and monitor the forecast of Dorian closely.
The myriad of track possibilities range from a Florida landfall and track northward through part of the Florida Peninsula to a landfall somewhere in the Carolinas to a scrape of the Southeast coast without the center ever moving ashore to a sharper northeast turn well offshore.
The uncertainty in Dorian’s exact track is mainly related to an area of high pressure off the East Coast when it fizzles.
That Bermuda high is currently steering Dorian toward the west, but will weaken soon, leaving Dorian stuck for a day or two, after which it then is expected to turn north, then northeast as a southward dip
Exactly when it makes those north and northeast turns is critical. If those turns occur later, it’s more of a landfall danger for parts of the Southeast coast. If it makes those turns sooner, the threat of a landfall is less, particularly in Florida and Georgia.
Regardless of its exact track, Dorian is likely to be a dangerous hurricane when it nears the U.S. Southeast coast.
Furthermore, as we saw with Hurricane Matthew in 2016, a hurricane doesn’t have to make landfall in an area to produce significant impacts.
Dorian’s Storm Surge, Wind and Rain Impacts
In the northwestern Bahamas, a life-threatening storm surge may cause water levels to be as much as 18 to 23 feet above normal tide level in areas of onshore winds. Near the coast, that storm surge will be accompanied by large, destructive waves.
Wind gusts over 200 mph are possible in the Abaco Islands, according to the NHC.
Rainfall totals of 12 to 24 inches are expected in the northwestern Bahamas, with isolated amounts up to 30 inches, which may cause life-threatening flash flooding, the NHC said. The central Bahamas can expect 2 to 4 inches, with isolated totals up to 6 inches.
Larger swells and increased battering waves generated by Dorian should begin to arrive along the Southeast coast from North Carolina to eastern Florida Sunday, and will persist for several days.
This will lead to increasing beach erosion and coastal flooding, particularly around times of high tides, which are generally around 10 to 11 a.m. and p.m. each day.