The center of Hurricane Dorian is making its way across Grand Bahama Island with a life-threatening storm surge, drenching rains and what forecasters called “catastrophic” winds.
Dorian presents extra danger to the island because of its slow speed, moving westward at only 9 kilometers per hour early Monday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm could drop 30 to 60 centimeters of rain across the northwestern Bahamas, with 75 centimeters in isolated areas.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Sunday was “the worst day of my life” as the storm pummeled the islands with top sustained winds of 295 kilometers per hour.
“Many had not heeded the warning. Many have remained behind and still there are individuals within the West End area who still refuse to leave,” he said at a Nassau news conference. “I can only say to them that I hope this is not the last time they will hear my voice.”
Officials in states along the southeastern U.S. coast have issued their own warnings and ordered people to evacuate the most vulnerable areas. Evacuation orders go into effect Monday in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
“Hurricane Dorian is the strongest storm to ever threaten the state of Florida on the East Coast,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz. “No matter what path this storm takes, our state will be impacted. We will continue to work around the clock to prepare.”
The NHC expects the storm to take a turn to the northeast in the coming days, but how much it turns and how quickly will determine the extent of Dorian’s effects. For now, forecasters have put hurricane warnings in place for about half of Florida’s coast with the storm expected to bring hurricane conditions there by late Monday through Tuesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump canceled a trip to Poland to stay home to monitor the storm. He visited Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters Sunday, urging everyone in “Hurricane Dorian’s path to heed all warnings and evacuation orders from local authorities.”
Forecasters predict Dorian will affect much of the Atlantic Coast throughout the week, from Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. Areas as far north as the tip of New Jersey could experience heavy rain and tropical force winds by Friday.