The eye of the one of the strongest hurricanes ever to come ashore in the Bahamas began “wobbling” over Grand Bahama Island at around 6 am Monday, according to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami Florida.
Dorian has tied the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in nearly 100 years, according to The Associated Press, equaling the nameless Labor Day hurricane of 1935 which predated the time when storms were given appellations.
“This is a life-threatening situation,” the NHC said in a bulletin. “Residents in the Abacos should continue to stay in their shelter until conditions subside later today.”
Winds were gusting at 200 miles per hour (mph) with storm surge at 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels, “with higher destructive waves,” the Center said. “These hazards will continue . . . during most of the day, causing extreme destruction on the island.”
Maximum sustained winds were blowing at 165 mph with Dorian rolling west at a rate of just one mile per hour.
Hurricane Dorian had whirled up to a vicious Category 5 hurricane, packing life-threatening 220-mph winds when it hit the Bahamas late Sunday afternoon.
Residents were warned repeatedly not to venture into the eye of the storm, a period which is deceptively calm, but which passes very swiftly, and abruptly.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration flew its aircraft into the eye of the storm on Sunday morning to check conditions in the hurricane. See below.
INSIDE THE EYE OF HURRICANE DORIAN – #NOAA42 Kermit flies through Category 5 Hurricane #Dorian on 09/01/19 morning mission (credit: Ian Sears, NOAA). Forecasts and advisories at https://t.co/3phpgKMZaS, preparation tips at https://t.co/ZUC1oGAvw6 #FlyNOAA pic.twitter.com/iclEmItCtb
— NOAA Aircraft Operations Center (@NOAA_HurrHunter) September 2, 2019
The first recorded death from Dorian was a seven-year-old boy who drowned after his family attempted to evacuate their home in Abaco. The child, Lachino McIntosh, didn’t make it out, and his sister is still missing, according to the Bahamas Press.
Mandatory evacuations, flights canceled
Mandatory evacuations were underway in coastline communities in parts of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered the evacuation of his state’s entire coast covering some 830,000 people, at noon Monday. At that time, state troopers were to make all lanes on major coastal highways one-way heading inland.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued warnings about heavy rain, winds and floods but has not ordered mandatory evacuations.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp also ordered mandatory evacuations for his state’s Atlantic coast, in six counties east of Interstate 95 beginning at noon. The state’s Department of Transportation and other authorities will start a westerly contraflow Tuesday on Interstate 16 beginning at 8 am, Kemp said.
More than 600 US flights were canceled for Monday, with nearly half arriving or departing from Florida airports. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is closing at noon on Monday “until further notice.” Cancelations in other mid-Atlantic states on Sunday alone affected approximately 336 flights.
Life-threatening storm surges and dangerous hurricane-force winds are expected along portions of the Florida east coast through mid-week, according to the National Hurricane Center. Storm surge and hurricane warnings are in effect. Residents are advised to listen to local media and follow directives by local emergency officials.
Meteorologists said there is a likelihood of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina later in the week. Heavy rains capable of producing life-threatening flash floods are expected over northern portions of the Bahamas and coastal sections of the Southeast and lower Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States through Friday.
As Dorian hits Bahamas, message received: ‘Send Beer’
Just before the storm battered Nassau, a tourism webcam caught the movement of an unidentified man who strolled on to the beach to engrave a message into the sand:
The moment came as the hurricane was whipping its rains around Great Abaco Island, some 90 miles north of Nassau, at about 12:40 PM Sunday, according to the New York Post. The erstwhile beer drinker appeared to sign his message, “G7DAZ.”