WATCH LIVE: Dorian, back to a Category 3 hurricane, creeps up US coast

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Large waves crashed onto the beach of Tybee Island, Ga., Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019 as Hurricane Dorian moved closer to the Georgia coast. (Casey Jones/Savannah Morning News via AP)

Sept. 4, 2019

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Hurricane Dorian , back to a Category 3 storm, began raking the Southeast U.S. seaboard late Wednesday, threatening to inundate low-lying coasts from Georgia to southwest Virginia with a dangerous storm surge after its deadly mauling of the Bahamas.

Dorian had crashed into the island nation as its strongest hurricane on record leaving widespread devastation and at least 20 people dead. But it weakened substantially in the days since, dropping from a Category 5 to a Category 2 storm before increasing again late Wednesday. Dorian could maintain this intensity for about 12 hours or so, but guidance is showing shear increasing, and that should result in gradual weakening Thursday and Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Dorian still boasted dangerously high winds of 115 mph (185 kph) as it churned north toward the Carolinas while pushing crashing ocean waves onshore.

More than 1,500 people sought refuge in 28 shelters in South Carolina, where sheets of rain began falling late Wednesday in the historic port city of Charleston, located on a peninsula prone to flooding. As Dorian crept dangerously closer, winds picked up sending rain sheets sideways, thunder boomed in the night sky and power flickered on and off in places.

Though weakened, Dorian remained a force to be reckoned with, its swirling circle of winds and rain wrapped around a large, gaping eye visible on photos taken from space. At 11 p.m. EDT Wednesday the distinct eye of the hurricane churned about 105 miles (168 kilometers) south of Charleston, moving north at 7 mph (11 kph) off the coast.
In Charleston’s downtown, stores and restaurants were boarded up with wood and corrugated metal and about 830,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders on the South Carolina coast.

Hundreds of thousands also were ordered off the Georgia coast. A flood chart posted by the National Weather Service projected a combined high tide and storm surge around Charleston Harbor of 10.3 feet (3.1 meters); the record, 12.5 feet (4 meters), was set by Hugo in 1989.

Georgia’s coastal islands were also at risk, Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday, adding “We are very worried, especially about the barrier islands getting cut off.”

The approach of Dorian has left the cobblestone streets of Savannah, Georgia’s downtown historic district largely deserted. But there were still places to find a hurricane party. More than 30 people gathered at Pinkie Master’s Lounge on Wednesday evening, as wind gusts from the offshore hurricane bent tree tops in Savannah – nearly 20 miles (32 kilometers) inland.

In North Carolina, where authorities said an 85-year-old man died after falling from a ladder while getting ready for Dorian, Gov. Roy Cooper warned of the threat of storm surge and flash flooding from heavy rains. The Outer Banks barrier islands were particularly exposed.

Duke Energy said Dorian could cause more than 700,000 power outages in easternmost parts of North Carolina and South Carolina, and Georgia Power said about 2,800 homes and businesses were already without electricity.

The Navy ordered ships at its huge base in Norfolk, Virginia, to head to sea for safety, and warplanes at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, were being moved inland. The commander of the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic issued an emergency evacuation order for military personnel and their dependents in five North Carolina counties.

The acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Peter Gaynor, said 4,000 federal responders; 6,000 National Guard members; and 40,000 utility workers were on standby.

“We are ready to go,” Gaynor said. “We’ll follow Dorian up the coast until it is not a threat.”

In Florida, initially projected to take a direct hit from Dorian, there was widespread relief Wednesday after the storm passed the state from a relatively safe distance offshore. Orlando, Florida’s international airport reopened, as did Walt Disney World and Universal. But one Florida resident had died while preparing for the storm, a 56-year-old man who was knocked to the ground from a tree Monday evening as he trimmed limbs with a chainsaw in an Orlando suburb.


Associated Press reporters Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia; Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jeffrey Collins in Carolina Beach, North Carolina; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Michael Schneider in Orlando, Florida, David Fischer in Miami, and Meg Kinnard in Charleston, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

Sept. 4, 2019 – 1 p.m.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Weakened but still deadly, Hurricane Dorian crept up the Southeastern coast of the United States on Wednesday and millions were ordered to evacuate as forecasters said near-record levels of seawater and rain could inundate Georgia and the Carolinas.

The storm, which ravaged the Bahamas with more than a full day of devastating wind and rain, had weakened substantially — from a Category 5 storm to a Category 2 — but still had dangerously high winds and threatened to swamp low-lying regions from Georgia to southeastern Virginia as it moved northward.

“We will experience hurricane-force winds, in at least gusts,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news conference Wednesday. Even if the hurricane doesn’t end up hitting the state directly, he said, “there’s still going to be wind and water and if you’re in the coastal area, that water can be treacherous.”

Dorian appeared likely to get dangerously near Charleston, which is particularly vulnerable since it is located on a peninsula. A flood chart posted by the National Weather Service projected a combined high tide and storm surge around Charleston Harbor of 10.3 feet (3.1 meters); the record, 12.5 feet (4 meters), was set by Hugo in 1989.

Stores and restaurants were boarded up with wood and corrugated metal in the city’s historic downtown, and about 830,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders on the South Carolina coast. More than 400 people were in state-operated shelters statewide, and more were expected.

Mark Russell, a homeless U.S. Army veteran, said he had been in a shelter since Monday awaiting slow-moving Dorian.

“Once the rain comes and the wind hits, it’s going to blow left, right, in and out, and there’s not really a place that you can find” to avoid it, said Russell, 63.

In North Carolina, where authorities said an 85-year-old man died after falling from a ladder while getting ready for the storm, Gov. Roy Cooper warned about the threat of storm surge and flash flooding from heavy rains. The Outer Banks were particularly vulnerable.

Georgia’s coastal islands were also at risk, Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday.

“We are very worried, especially about the barrier islands getting cut off if we have these storm surges at the same time as … the high tides,” Kemp said.

Duke Energy said Dorian could cause more than 700,000 power outages in eastern regions of North Carolina and South Carolina, and Georgia Power said about 2,800 homes and businesses were already without electricity.

The Navy ordered ships at its huge base in Norfolk, Virginia, to head out to sea for safety, and warplanes at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, were being moved inland to Ohio.

Weaker but bigger since it slammed the Bahamas with 185 mph (295 kph) winds earlier this week, Dorian was moving along Florida’s northeastern coast at 8 mph (13 kph) late Wednesday afternoon. Forecasters said it had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (177 kph) and was centered about 150 miles (241 kilometers) south of Charleston.

A hurricane warning covered about 500 miles (805 kilometers) of coastline, and authorities warned about 3 million residents to get away before the water and wind rose with Dorian’s approach.

The acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Peter Gaynor, said 4,000 federal responders; 6,000 National Guard members; and 40,000 utility workers were on standby for the hurricane.

“We are ready to go,” Gaynor said. “We’ll follow Dorian up the coast until it is not a threat to the U.S.”

In Florida, initially projected to take a direct hit from Dorian, there was widespread relief and gratitude on Wednesday after the storm passed the state from a relatively safe distance offshore.

“We’re lucky today,” said Ryan Haggett, kitchen manager at the Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill, at Flagler Beach on the state’s central coast. Haggett and others were removing storm shutters they had placed over the restaurant’s windows and planned to serve dinner Wednesday night.

“This storm was much less than what happened two years ago, three years ago with Irma and Matthew,” Haggett said, referring to the deadly storms that hit in 2017 and 2016. “They were the worst.”

With the threat to Florida easing and the danger shifting northward, Orlando, Florida’s international airport reopened, as did Walt Disney World and Universal. Dorian forced Disney Cruise Line to cancel one trip and delay the return of another ship to Port Canaveral, Florida.

One resident in the state died while preparing for the storm Monday evening, when Dorian’s path was still projected to include central Florida. Joseph Walden, 56, was sitting on a tree limb and using a chainsaw to trim other limbs in the Orlando suburb of Ocoee when one of the cut limbs broke free and struck him, pushing him to the ground, Ocoee police said in a news release. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.


Sept. 4, 2019 – 1:30 a.m.

FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) – Hurricane Dorian’s eye is passing to the east of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the deadly storm is now about 90 miles (144 kilometers) east northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Maximum sustained winds are being clocked at 110 mph (175 kph). It’s moving to the north northwest at 7 mph (11 kph).

The Miami-based weather center says a turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn toward the north-northeast on Thursday morning. The core of Dorian will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast and the Georgia coast through Wednesday night. The center of Dorian is forecast to move near or over the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina Thursday through Friday morning. Earlier this week Dorian pummeled parts of the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane, leaving widespread devastation and at least seven people dead.



Sept. 3, 2019
FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) — Relief officials reported scenes of utter ruin Tuesday in parts of the Bahamas and rushed to deal with an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm on record ever to hit the islands. At least five deaths were reported, with the full scope of the disaster still unknown.


The storm’s punishing winds and muddy brown floodwaters destroyed or severely damaged thousands of homes, crippled hospitals and trapped people in attics.


“It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic. It looks like a bomb went off,” said Lia Head-Rigby, who helps run a local hurricane relief organization and flew over the Bahamas’ hard-hit Abaco Island. “It’s not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again.”
She said her representative on Abaco told her that “there’s a lot more dead” and that the bodies were being gathered.


Emergency authorities, meanwhile, struggled to reach victims amid conditions too dangerous even for rescue workers, and urged people to hang on.


“We don’t want people thinking we’ve forgotten them. … We know what your conditions are. We know if you’re stuck in an attic,” Tammy Mitchell of the Bahamas’ National Emergency Management Agency told ZNS Bahamas radio station.


With their heads bowed against heavy wind and rain, rescuers began evacuating people across Grand Bahama late Tuesday using jet skis, boats and even a huge bulldozer that cradled children and adults in its digger as it cut through deep muddy waters and carried them to safety.


One rescuer gently scooped up an elderly man in his arms and walked toward a pickup truck waiting to evacuate him and others to higher ground.

Practically parking over a portion of the Bahamas for a day and a half, Dorian pounded the northern islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama with winds up to 185 mph (295 kph) and torrential rain before finally moving into open waters Tuesday on a course for Florida. Its winds were down to a still-dangerous 110 mph (175 kph).


Over 2 million people along the coast in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina were warned to evacuate. While the threat of a direct hit on Florida had all but evaporated, Dorian was expected to pass dangerously close to Georgia and South Carolina — and perhaps strike North Carolina — on Thursday or Friday.


Even if landfall does not occur, the system is likely to cause storm surge and severe flooding, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
“Don’t tough it out. Get out,” said U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency official Carlos Castillo.


In the Bahamas, Red Cross spokesman Matthew Cochrane said more than 13,000 houses, or about 45% of the homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco, were believed to have been severely damaged or destroyed. U.N. officials said more than 60,000 people on the hard-hit islands will need food, and the Red Cross said some 62,000 will need clean drinking water.


“What we are hearing lends credence to the fact that this has been a catastrophic storm and a catastrophic impact,” Cochrane said.
Lawson Bates, a staffer for Arkansas-based MedicCorps, flew over Abaco and said: “It looks completely flattened. There’s boats way inland that are flipped over. It’s total devastation.”


The Red Cross authorized a half-million dollars for the first wave of disaster relief, Cochrane said. And U.N. humanitarian teams stood ready to go into the stricken areas to help assess the damage and the country’s needs, U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said. The U.S. government also sent a disaster response team.


Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, with a combined population of about 70,000, are known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts. To the south, the Bahamas’ most populous island, New Providence, which includes the capital city, Nassau, and has over a quarter-million people, suffered little damage.


The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people injured on Abaco. Rescuers also used jet skis to reach some people as choppy, coffee-colored floodwaters reached roofs and the tops of palm trees.


“We will confirm what the real situation is on the ground,” Health Minister Duane Sands said. “We are hoping and praying that the loss of life is limited.”


Sands said Dorian rendered the main hospital on Grand Bahama unusable, while the hospital in Marsh Harbor in Abaco was in need of food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He said crews were trying to airlift five to seven kidney failure patients from Abaco who had not received dialysis since Friday.


The Grand Bahama airport was under 6 feet (2 meters) of water.
As of 5 p.m. EDT, Dorian was centered about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was moving northwest at 6 mph (7 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended up to 52 miles (83 kilometers) from its center.


The coastline from north of West Palm Beach, Florida, through Georgia was expected to get 3 to 6 inches of rain, with 9 inches in places, while the Carolinas could get 5 to 10 inches and 15 in spots, the National Hurricane Center said.


NASA satellite imagery through Monday night showed some places in the Bahamas had gotten as much as 35 inches (89 centimeters) of rain, said private meteorologist Ryan Maue.


Parliament member Iram Lewis said he feared waters would keep rising and stranded people would lose contact with officials as their cellphone batteries died.


Dorian also left one person dead in its wake in Puerto Rico before slamming into the Bahamas on Sunday. It tied the record for the strongest Atlantic storm ever to hit land, matching the Labor Day hurricane that struck Florida Gulf Coast in 1935, before storms were given names.


Scientists say that climate change generally has been fueling more powerful and wetter storms but that linking any specific hurricane to global warming would require more detailed study.


Across the Southeast, meanwhile, interstate highways leading away from the beach in South Carolina and Georgia were turned into one-way evacuation routes. Several airports announced closings, and hundreds of flights were canceled. Walt Disney World in Orlando closed in the afternoon, and SeaWorld shut down.


Police in coastal Savannah, Georgia, announced an overnight curfew. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper ordered a mandatory evacuation of the dangerously exposed barrier islands along the state’s entire coast.
Having seen storms swamp his home on the Georgia coast in 2016 and 2017, Joey Spalding of Tybee Island decided to empty his house and stay at a friend’s apartment nearby rather than take any chances with Dorian.


He packed a U-Haul truck with tables, chairs, a chest of drawers, tools — virtually all of his furnishings except for his mattress and a large TV — and planned to park it on higher ground. He also planned to shroud his house in plastic wrap up to shoulder height and pile sandbags in front of the doors.
“In this case, I don’t have to come into a house full of junk,” he said. “I’m learning a little as I go.”


In Folly Beach, South Carolina, many restaurants and shops wasted no time in boarding up, but some hurricane-hardened residents had yet to decide whether to heed the evacuation order.


“If it comes, it comes. You know, God always provides, y’all,” Sammye Wooded said.


Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Weissenstein from Nassau, Bahamas. Associated Press reporters Tim Aylen in Freeport; Russ Bynum in Georgia; and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) – The Latest on Hurricane Dorian (all times local):

Sept. 3 11 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian has weakened to a Category 2 storm as it continues to batter the Bahamas with life-threatening storm surge.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian’s maximum sustained winds decreased Tuesday morning to near 110 mph (175 kph). But it’s expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days.

Dorian is centered about 45 miles (70 kilometers) north of Freeport in the Bahamas and is moving northwest near 2 mph (4 kph).


9:35 a.m.

Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands tells The Associated Press that Hurricane Dorian devastated the health infrastructure in Grand Bahama island and massive flooding has rendered the main hospital unusable.

He said Tuesday that the storm caused less severe damage in the neighboring Abaco islands and he hopes to send an advanced medical team there soon.

Sands said the main hospital in Marsh Harbor is intact and sheltering 400 people but needs food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He also said crews are trying to airlift between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco who haven’t received dialysis since Friday.

Dorian hit Abaco on Sunday with sustained winds of 185 mph (295 kph) and gusts up to 220 mph (355 kph), a strength matched only by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. The storm then hovered over Grand Bahama for a day and a half.


9:20 a.m.

United Nations officials estimate more than 60,000 people in the northwest Bahamas will need food following the devastation left by Hurricane Dorian .

A spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program said Tuesday that a team is ready to help the Bahamian government assess storm damage and prioritize needs. Herve Verhoosel says preliminary calculations show that 45,700 people in Grand Bahama island may need food, along with another 14,500 in the neighboring Abaco islands.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says some 62,000 people also will need access to clean drinking water. Matthew Cochrane says about 45% of homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco were severely damaged or destroyed and the organization will help 20,000 of the most vulnerable people, including a large Haitian community.


8:25 a.m.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he ordered evacuations along the length of his state’s coast, which includes several low-lying islands, because if there is flooding on causeways, they won’t be able to get vehicles on or off the islands.

Kemp told Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday morning that he’s expecting Hurricane Dorian to batter Georgia with heavy winds, severe flooding, a storm surge and beach erosion.

He said a reverse traffic or “contraflow” on Interstate 16 begins Tuesday morning.

The Category 3 storm has been battering the Bahamas, causing extensive damage and flooding.


8:05 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian is beginning to inch northwestward after being stationary over the Bahamas, where its relentless winds have caused catastrophic damage and flooding.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm has started moving about 1 mph (2 kph) Tuesday morning and its speed is expected to increase slightly later in the day.

Dorian’s maximum sustained winds remain near 120 mph (195 kph), making it a major Category 3 hurricane.

The storm is centered about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Freeport in the Bahamas.

McLEAN’S TOWN CAY, Bahamas (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Dorian (all times local):

September 2, 2 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian remains powerful and destructive as it hovers over Grand Bahama island – but is showing signs of slight weakening.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 2 p.m. EDT Monday that the Category 4 storm’s maximum sustained winds fell to 150 mph (240 kph) – down from 155 mph (250 kph) earlier in the day.

On Sunday, Dorian blasted the Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (297 kph) and gusts up to 220 mph (354 kph), tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall.

The storm continued to creep westward at 1 mph (2 kph). Its center was located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama island. It was about 105 miles (170 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The center said Dorian is expected to move “dangerously close” to the Florida east coast late Monday through Wednesday evening and then move north to coastal Georgia and South Carolina on Wednesday night and Thursday.

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12:30 p.m.

Georgia’s governor is urging coastal residents to flee ahead of Hurricane Dorian, citing the storm’s powerful winds and uncertain path.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp told reporters Monday in Savannah: “This is not one to play with.”

It was Kemp’s first news conference since late Sunday when he ordered mandatory evacuations in all six counties that make up Georgia’s 100-mile (161-kilometer) coastline.

Kemp said those living on Georgia’s barrier islands especially ought to flee, warning that emergency responders may not be able to reach them if causeways are underwater or blocked by debris.

Georgia officials plan to turn Interstate 16 linking Savannah and Macon into a one-way evacuation route Tuesday. The state Department of Transportation is asking motorists to consider alternate routes in anticipation of additional evacuation traffic from Florida and South Carolina.

12:20 p.m.

Authorities in the Bahamas are urging people to find floating devices and grab hammers to break out of their attics if necessary as Hurricane Dorian unleashed massive flooding across Grand Bahama island.

Minister of State Kwasi Thompson told ZNS Bahamas radio station Monday that officials were getting a tremendous number of calls from people in distress as the powerful Category 4 storm slowed to almost a standstill.

Police Chief Samuel Butler urged people to remain calm and said rescue crews could not help anyone at the moment because of the storm’s maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (250 kph).

“We simply cannot get to you,” he said.

Dorian also is expected to cause a storm surge of up to 23 feet (7 meters) as ZNS radio station shared reports from callers saying some people were stuck on roofs and other areas.

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12:10 p.m.

Palm Beach International Airport is closed as Hurricane Dorian approaches the Florida coast, and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is scheduled to close soon.

The Palm Beach airport closed Monday morning and the Fort Lauderdale airport announced it would do the same at noon. They are two of the three major airports serving South Florida.

Miami International Airport remained open, but warned travelers that it was expecting higher than normal traffic and to arrive early for their flights.

Dorian crawled to a near stop as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph (250 kph) winds in the Bahamas and was about 110 miles (180 kph) east of West Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday at 11 a.m. EDT.

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11:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump has approved emergency declarations for Georgia and South Carolina due to Hurricane Dorian.

Trump approved the declarations on Sunday. The White House announced them Monday.

The declarations authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

Trump was briefed on the hurricane during a visit to FEMA headquarters in Washington on Sunday.

The president urged everyone in Dorian’s path to obey warnings and evacuation orders issued by local authorities, saying public safety “must always come first.”

Trump approved an emergency declaration for Florida on Friday.

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11 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian, while continuing to batter the Bahamas on Monday with life-threatening winds and storm surge, has weakened very slightly to a Category 4 storm.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said in an advisory at 11 a.m. EDT that Dorian’s maximum sustained winds are 155 mph (250 kph), which takes the extremely dangerous storm down one notch, from Category 5.

The storm was expected to continue inflicting devastation on Grand Bahama Island throughout Monday.

The center said the storm will move “dangerously close” to the Florida East Coast late Monday through Wednesday evening.

A hurricane warning along Florida’s east coast has been extended northward to the Flagler-Volusia county line. A hurricane watch has been extended northward to Altamaha Sound in Georgia.

The storm’s center was located about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island and about 110 miles (180 miles) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

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10 a.m.

Weather forecasters say Hurricane Dorian’s wind strength has dropped slightly Monday, though it continues to pummel the Bahamas with destructive wind and rain.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 10 a.m. EDT that the maximum sustained wind speed was most recently clocked at 160 mph (260 kph), down from 165 mph.

Still, Dorian remained an extremely dangerous, life-threateneing Category 5 storm, the center said.

The storm was crawling slowly west at 1 mph (2 kph), with its center 30 miles (50 kilometers) east-northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island and 115 miles (185 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

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8:10 a.m.

A spokesman for Bahamas Power and Light says there has been a total blackout in New Providence, the archipelago’s most populous island.

Quincy Parker told ZNS Bahamas radio station on Monday morning that crews are working to restore power on the island that lies south of the path that Hurricane Dorian is expected to take.

He said the Bahamas Power and Light office in Abaco, which was hit by the Category 5 storm on Sunday, has been flattened.

“The reports out of Abaco as everyone knows,” Parker said as he sighed, “were not good.”

Parker said officials are anxious for the storm to pass so they can start rebuilding.

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8:10 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian is continuing its slow, devastating slog over the Bahamas.

Early Monday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said the eye of the powerful Category 5 storm was virtually parked over Grand Bahama Island – crawling west at only 1 mph (2 kph) as it dumped rain and lashed the island with destructive winds.

The center said a “life-threatening storm surge” could raise water levels by as much as 23 feet (7 meters) above normal tide in parts of Grand Bahama Island.

At 8 a.m. EDT, the storm was located about 35 miles (50 kilometers) east-northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island and about 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

Maximum sustained winds stood at 165 mph (270 kph).

The center says Dorian’s core will continue to pound Grand Bahama Island into Monday night. The hurricane will move “dangerously close” to Florida through Wednesday evening.

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7:10 a.m.

Nearly 1,000 flights have been canceled in Florida on Labor Day as Hurricane Dorian barrels toward the U.S. East Coast.

The flight tracking site FlightAware on Monday listed 990 cancellations into or out of airports in Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Palm Beach.

As of around 7 a.m. Monday, the center of the Category 5 storm was around 35 miles (56 kilometers) east-northeast of Freeport on Grand Bahama and 120 miles (193 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida. Top sustained winds remain at 165 mph (265 kph).

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says that although the official forecast does not show Dorian making landfall in Florida, the hurricane could deviate from that prediction and move very near or over the coast.

The center also said the likelihood was increasing of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week.

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6:10 a.m

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the eye of Hurricane Dorian is “wobbling” over the Bahamas’ northernmost island.

Still, residents of Grand Bahama are advised to remain in their shelters, as dangerous winds will pick back up once the eye passes.

As of around 6 a.m. Monday, the center of the storm was around 35 miles (56 kilometers) east-northeast of Freeport on Grand Bahama and 120 miles (193 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

Top sustained winds remain at 165 mph (265 kph) and the Category 5 storm continues to inch west at just 1 mph (1.6 kph).

Dorian is expected to continue lashing the Bahamas on Monday, before moving closer to the southeastern U.S. coast Monday night through Wednesday evening.

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5:05 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian continues to lash the northern Bahamas as it crawls westward toward the southeastern U.S. coast.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the Category 5 storm’s top sustained winds remain at 165 mph (265 kph) Monday morning, down Sunday’s high of 185 mph (297 kph). The center of the storm is around 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of Grand Bahama’s largest city, Freeport, and 115 miles (185 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The newest advisory indicates that the east-central coast of Florida may experience a “brief tornado” Monday afternoon or evening.

The government of the Bahamas has discontinued the hurricane warning for New Providence and Eleuthera, and the hurricane watch for Andros island.

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4:10 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian is crawling westward at just 1 mph (1.6 kph) as it lashes the northern Bahamas with destructive winds.

According to a 4 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, the Category 5 storm’s top sustained winds have decreased to 165 mph (265kph).

The center of the storm remains around 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of Grand Bahama’s largest city, Freeport. It’s also around 125 miles (200 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The update says Grand Bahama is “being lashes incessantly with destructive hurricane-force winds.”

The hurricane is expected to continue battering Grand Bahama through Monday, before moving close to Florida’s coast Monday night through Wednesday evening.

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3:10 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian’s eye is crawling over the Bahamas’ northernmost island, but residents are warned not to leave their shelters.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Dorian’s top sustained winds have further decreased to 170 mph (275 kph). The Category 5’s movement has slowed to a 2 mph (4 kph) crawl westward.

The 3 a.m. Sunday advisory warns residents on Grand Bahama to remain in their shelters as the eye passes over, as winds will rapidly pick back up once the eye moves.

Residents of the islands where the hurricane first hit are also advised to remain in their shelters until conditions improve later Monday.

The center of the storm is around 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of Grand Bahama’s largest city, Freeport. It’s also around 125 miles (200 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

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2:10 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian has weakened slightly as it batters the northern Bahamas but the National Hurricane Center in Miami says the Category 5 storm still remains “extremely dangerous.”

As of 2 a.m. Monday, the storm had top sustained winds of 175 mph (280 kph) and was moving westward at 5 mph (7 kph). The storm is currently pounding the Bahamas’ northernmost island, Grand Bahama, and is centered about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of the island’s largest city, Freeport, and 125 miles (200 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The hurricane is expected to continue battering Grand Bahama through Monday, before moving “dangerously close” to the Florida coast Monday night through Wednesday evening.

The hurricane center forecasts further weakening at a slow pace, but the hurricane is expected to remain “powerful” over the next few days.

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1:25 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says catastrophic storm-surge flooding is likely occurring on the Bahamas’ northernmost island, Grand Bahama.

The 1 a.m. Monday update continued to characterize the situation created by the Category 5 Hurricane Dorian as “life-threatening.”

The hurricane’s westward movement has slightly slowed down to 5 mph (7 kph). The center of the storm remains around 45 miles (70 kilometers) east of Freeport on Grand Bahama and around 130 miles (210 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

Residents of the Abacos and Grand Bahama islands are still advised to remain in their shelters. Hazards of wind gusts at 200 mph (320 kph) and storm surge 18 to 23 feet (5.5 to 7 meters) above normal tide levels are forecast to “cause extreme destruction” and continue for several hours.

12:05 a.m.

Destructive winds from Hurricane Dorian are spreading across the Bahamas’ northernmost island.

The National Hurricane Center characterized the situation as “life-threatening” in a midnight Sunday statement. Residents of Grand Bahama, where the hurricane has made landfall, are encouraged not to leave their shelters when the eye of the hurricane passes over.

Residents of the Abacos, where Dorian first hit, are advised to remain in their shelters until conditions subside later Monday.

The statement warns of wind gusts at 200 mph (320 kph) and storm surge 18 to 23 feet (5.5 to 7 meters) above normal tide levels that “will cause extreme destruction.”

The center of the storm is around 45 miles (70 kilometers) east of Freeport on Grand Bahama and around 130 miles (210 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

___

12 a.m.

In a slow, relentless advance, a catastrophic Hurricane Dorian keeps pounding at the northern Bahamas, as one of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded leaves wrecked homes, shredded roofs, tumbled cars and toppled power poles in its wake.

The storm’s top sustained winds have decreased slightly to 180 mph (290 kph) while it spun along Grand Bahama island early Monday in what forecasters say will be a daylong assault. Earlier, Dorian churned over Abaco island with battering winds and surf during Sunday.

There is little information from the affected islands, though officials expect many residents to be left homeless. Most people went to shelters as the storm approached, with tourist hotels shutting down and residents boarded up their homes.

Sept. 1, 2019 The Latest: Dorian’s landfall strength ties record of 1935
MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Dorian (all times local):
2:15 p.m.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Dorian made a second landfall at 2 p.m. on Great Abaco Island near Marsh Harbour at 185 mph (285 kph).
The center says that is tied for the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane.
The Hurricane Center said Dorian’s maximum sustained winds stood at a monstrous 185 mph (295 kph), with higher gusts. Dorian is moving west at 7 mph (11 kph).
The storm’s center is about 185 miles (295 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida. A Hurricane watch is in effect for Florida from the north of Deerfield Beach to the Volusia-Brevard county line. Hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area by late Monday or early Tuesday.


1:10 p.m.
Extremely powerful, life-threatening Hurricane Dorian has reached the Bahamas. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday that Dorian made landfall in Elbow Cay at 12:40 p.m. EDT.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to a monstrous 185 mph (295 kph) from 180 mph (285 kph).
The Category 5 storm was moving west at 8 mph (13 kph).
The Hurricane Center says the arrival of the storm poses “a life-threatening situation” with hazards that will cause “extreme destruction.”
Wind gusts were clocked at over 220 mph (354 kph). The storm surge was measured at between 18 to 23 feet (5.4 to 7 meters) above normal tide levels.


11:30 a.m.
Officials at Florida’s busiest airport say they are rescinding plans to close on Monday.
Orlando International Airport officials said late Saturday that the airport will remain open Monday because of the turn northward in Hurricane Dorian’s projected path.
The airport originally had planned to stop commercial flights at 2 a .m. Monday for passenger safety and to give the airport’s 25,000 workers enough time to secure their homes and be with their families.
The airport had 47.7 million passengers travel through it last year.


11 a.m.
The National Hurricane Center says the northwest Bahamas is facing its strongest hurricane in modern times as Hurricane Dorian’s maximum sustained winds reach a monstrous 180 mph (285 kph).
The Category 5 storm has also grown in size, with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 45 miles (75 kilometers) from its center, located about 20 miles (30 kilometers) east-northeast of Great Abaco Island.
Dorian is moving west at 7 mph (11 kph) and is expected to slow in the next day or two, potentially prolonging the Bahamas’ weather misery.
The Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. EDT advisory that Dorian was strafing the Abacos Islands with life-threatening storm surge, destructive waves, and extremely powerful winds. Those conditions were expected to reach Grand Bahama Island later Sunday.
The hurricane was expected to move toward the Florida east coast late Monday through Tuesday. The Hurricane Center also issued a hurricane watch and storm surge watch for the east coast of Florida from north of Deerfield Beach to the line between Volusia and Brevard counties.


10:15 a.m.
A coastal Florida county is ordering an evacuation of barrier islands, mobile homes and areas that are prone to flood because of Hurricane Dorian.
Palm Beach County issued the evacuation order beginning 1 p.m. Sunday after the county that includes West Palm Beach was placed under a tropical storm warning.
The official forecast path for Dorian curves the storm away from the area before it strikes land.
But the National Hurricane center says there are variables that could alter that path, and there is about a 50% chance West Palm Beach will get hurricane winds by early Wednesday.


9:45 a.m.
Potentially devastating winds from Hurricane Dorian have strengthened yet again as the storm nears the Bahamas.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday that maximum sustained winds have increased to 175 mph (280 kph) from 160 mph (260 kph) as it approaches Great Abaco Island. It is moving west at 8 mph (13 kph).
The center said at 9:30 a.m. EDT that the Category 5 storm is 25 miles (40 kilometers) east-northeast of Great Abaco Island and about 210 miles (340 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.
The Hurricane Center is warning of potentially devastating wind gusts of more than 200 mph (321 kph) and destructive waves of up to 20 feet (6 meters).
“These hazards will cause extreme destruction in the affected areas,” the center said, “and will continue for several hours.”


8:55 a.m.
Weather forecasters say predictions that powerful Hurricane Dorian will slow to a crawl over the Bahamas complicates their outlook for the United States.
The National Hurricane Center says Dorian could nearly stall over Great Abaco Island or Grand Bahama Island for more than 24 hours starting late Sunday.
Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham says that would be catastrophic for the island chain. Dorian was upgraded to the most powerful designation of Category 5, with maximum sustained winds increasing to 160 mph (260 kph). Forecasters say ocean levels could rise up to 20 feet (6 meters) in parts of the northern Bahamas with the storm surge topped with huge waves.
Graham says the storm stalling also complicates the U.S. forecast. The time allows small changes in the winds that steer the storm, which means Dorian can still make landfall anywhere from Florida to North Carolina during the next five days.


8 a.m.
Weather forecasters say Hurricane Dorian has intensified to a Category 5 storm, capable of inflicting catastrophic levels of destruction.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday that Dorian’s maximum sustained winds have increased to 160 mph (260 kph), up from 150 mph (240 kph). It is moving west at 8 mph (13 kph)
“Devastating hurricane conditions” are expected in the Abacos Islands early Sunday, with conditions will spread across Grand Bahama Island later in the day, the center said.
In its advisory at 8 a.m. EDT, the center says the storm’s center is 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Great Abaco Island and 225 miles (360 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach.


5:15 a.m.
As Hurricane Dorian moves closer to the northern Bahamas, rainfall estimates have gone up for the Caribbean archipelago and the coastal Carolinas.
At around 5 a.m. Sunday, the center of the Category 4 storm was around 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas and 255 miles (410 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida. The hurricane is still moving west at 8 mph (13 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (240 kph).
A tropical storm warning was issued between Deerfield Beach up to Sebastian Inlet on southern Florida’s east coast, while a tropical storm watch was issued between Deerfield Beach down to Golden Beach.
The National Hurricane Center’s rainfall estimates for the northwestern Bahamas were upped to 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 centimeters), with isolated incidents of 30 inches (76 centimeters), while estimates for the coastal Carolinas were between 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) of rain, with isolated cases of 15 inches (38 centimeters).


1:50 a.m.
Hurricane Dorian is moving ever closer to the northern Bahamas.
Early Sunday, the Category 4 storm was around 95 miles (150 kilometers) east of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas and 280 miles (450 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida. The hurricane continues to move west at 8 mph (13 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (240 kph).
The core of the storm is expected to be near or over parts of the northwestern Bahamas later Sunday.
Millions of U.S. coastal dwellers from Florida to the Carolinas are keeping a wary eye on Dorian’s approach. Forecasters say many computer models indicate Dorian is expected to veer sharply northeastward and track up the Southeast seaboard, raising the risks of damaging winds and deadly flooding even if there’s no direct U.S. landfall.


12 a.m.
A dangerous Hurricane Dorian is closing in on the northern Bahamas, threatening to batter the normally idyllic islands with fierce winds, pounding waves and torrential rain.
Tourist hotels closed, residents boarded up homes and officials hired boats to move people from low-lying areas to bigger islands as the powerful Category 4 hurricane approached. Many are hunkered down in schools, churches and other shelters awaiting the storm’s dreaded arrival later Sunday.
Meanwhile, millions of U.S. coastal dwellers from Florida to the Carolinas are keeping a wary eye on Dorian’s approach. Forecasters say many computer models indicate the storm is expected to veer sharply northeastward after passing the Bahamas and track up the Southeast seaboard, raising the risks of damaging winds and deadly flooding even if there’s no direct U.S. landfall.


Aug. 31

McLEAN’S TOWN CAY, Bahamas (AP) — Hurricane Dorian shut down most major resorts in the Bahamas and forced authorities to evacuate much of the northern shore and low-lying islands Saturday as the fierce Category 4 storm prepared to unleash torrents of rain but was projected to spin farther away from the coast of the Southeast U.S. next week.


Forecasters expect Dorian, which packed 150 mph (240 kph) winds, to hit the northwestern part of the Bahamas on Sunday before curving upward.

The storm’s slow march north could spare a direct hit in the U.S. but still threatens Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas with powerful winds and rising ocean water that causes potentially deadly flooding.

In the Bahamas, any remaining tourists were sent to government shelters in schools, churches and other buildings offering protection from the storm.

“My home is all battened up, and I’m preparing right now to leave in a couple of minutes. … We’re not taking no chances,” said Margaret Bassett, 55, a ferry boat driver for the Deep Water Cay resort who chose to leave her home. “They said evacuate, you have to evacuate. It’s for the best interests of the people.”

Over two or three days, the hurricane could dump as much as 4 feet (1 meter) of rain, unleash high winds and whip up an abnormal rise in sea level called storm surge, according to private meteorologist Ryan Maue and some of the most reliable computer models.

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis warned in a nationally televised briefing that “Hurricane Dorian is a devastating, dangerous storm approaching our islands.”

Small skiffs rented by Bahamas authorities ran back and forth between outlying fishing communities and McLean’s Town, a settlement of a few dozen homes on the eastern end of Grand Bahama, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) from Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Most were coming from Sweeting Cay, a fishing town of a few hundred people that sits about 5 feet (1.5 meters) above sea level and was expected to be left completely underwater by storm surge.

Still, a few fishermen planned to ride it out, which could put them in extreme danger.

“Hoping for the best, that the storm passes and everybody is safe until we return home,” fisherman Tyrone Mitchell said. “All the ladies and children evacuated, and we have about six or seven men that (will) ride out the storm.”

The Bahamas on average faces a direct hit from a hurricane every four years. One Category 5 hurricane and seven Category 4 hurricanes have struck the Bahamas since storms were first recorded in 1851.

Construction codes require homes to have metal reinforcements for roof beams to withstand winds into the upper limits of a Category 4 hurricane, and compliance is generally tight for residents who can afford it. Poorer communities typically have wooden homes and are generally lower-lying, placing them at tremendous risk.

After walloping the islands, forecasters said the ever-strengthening Dorian was expected to dance up the Southeast coastline, staying just off the shores of Florida and Georgia on Tuesday and Wednesday before skirting South Carolina and North Carolina on Thursday.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency Saturday, mobilizing state resources to prepare for the possibility the storm could still make landfall. Trump already declared a state of emergency in Florida and authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster-relief efforts.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the risk of strong winds and rising water will increase along the shores of Georgia and the Carolinas by the middle of next week.

The center also stressed that Dorian could still hit Florida. But after days of a forecast that put the state in the center of expected landfalls, the storm’s turn northeast is significant.

Carmen Segura, 32, said she had installed hurricane shutters at her house in Miami, bought extra gas and secured water and food for at least three days. She feels well prepared and less worried given the latest forecasts but still a bit uneasy given how unpredictable the storm’s expected path has been.

“Part of me still feels like: So, now what?” she said.

Millions of people in Florida have been in the changing potential path of the hurricane, and Gov. Ron DeSantis warned them not to let their guard down.

“Looking at these forecasts, a bump in one direction or the other could have really significant ramifications in terms of impact. If it bumps further east, that obviously is positive. If it bumps just a little west, than you’re looking at really, really significant impacts,” DeSantis said.

Maue, the meteorologist, said that though “the worst effects of a direct landfall are not in the forecast,” ”it’s going to be pretty scary because you’re going to have this gigantic hurricane sitting off the coast of Florida, and it’s not going to move.”

The storm upended Labor Day weekend plans. Major airlines began allowing travelers to change their reservations without fees. The big cruise lines began rerouting their ships.

Disney World and Orlando’s other resorts faced a potential risk, but they held off announcing any closings with Dorian days away and its track uncertain. Florida authorities also have not ordered immediate mass evacuations.

But some counties told residents of barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying areas to flee beginning Sunday — though those orders could change.

Dorian was centered 415 miles (670 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach and was moving northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).

In the Bahamas, canned food and bottled water disappeared quickly from shelves and people boarded up their homes.

“We ask for God’s guidance and for God to assist us through this,” Minnis said.


Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein and Michael Balsamo in Washington; Michael Weissenstein in Havana, Cuba; Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Marcia Dunn in Cape Canaveral, Florida; Freida Frisaro, Adriana Gomez Licon and Marcus Lim in Miami; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; and Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.


MIAMI (AP) – The Latest on Hurricane Dorian:

11 p.m. Aug. 30, 2019

Forecasters say Hurricane Dorian, hours after becoming an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm, has gotten even stronger.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian is now packing top sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph) as it approaches the northwestern Bahamas. The storm hours earlier had winds of about 130 mph (215 kph).

At 11 p.m. EDT Friday, Dorian was centered about 375 miles (605 kilometers) east of the northwestern Bahamas. That was about 545 miles (880 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The storm is moving to the west-northwest at 10 mph (17 kph). The Miami-based center says Dorian should be near or over the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday and be near Florida’s east coast by late Monday.

___

8:30 p.m.

Forecasters say Dorian has become an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Dorian gained new strength in recent hours and now has maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (215 kph).

It says in an updated statement at 8:30 p.m. EDT Friday that hurricane hunter aircraft detected the change in strength recently.

The storm is centered about 400 miles (645 kilometers) east of the northwestern Bahamas.

___

8 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian has gotten a little stronger in recent hours and more strengthening is expected.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Dorian now has top sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph) as it edges closer to the northwestern Bahamas.

At 8 p.m. EDT Friday, the center of Dorian was about 400 miles (645 kilometers) east of the northwestern Bahamas. That’s about 575 miles (925 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The hurricane is headed west-northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).

____

7:30 p.m.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is urging residents to closely monitor Hurricane Dorian as it approaches the state’s east coast.

DeSantis pointed out during a Friday evening briefing that no one had accurately predicted the final path of Hurricane Irma three days before it made its U.S. landfall in 2017. Dorian is expected hit Florida late Monday or early Tuesday.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting landfall near the center of the state, but no evacuations have been ordered yet. DeSantis says residents need to comply when mandatory evacuations take effect.

DeSantis said: “There is a danger to your life if you remain in these evacuation zones.”

___

6:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s spoken with officials in Florida and Georgia ahead of the expected landfall of a potentially devastating Hurricane Dorian this weekend.

Trump said Friday he spoke with U.S. Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida, as well as with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, about preparations for the storm. Trump is traveling to Camp David in Maryland, where he will monitor the storm after he canceled his planned trip this weekend to Poland.

Trump says he will visit Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington on Sunday for a briefing before the storm is expected to make landfall.

(This item has been corrected to show that Rick Scott is currently a U.S. senator representing Florida.)

___

5:10 p.m.

Forecasters say “extremely dangerous” Hurricane Dorian is edging closer to the northwestern Bahamas.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian remains a powerful Category 3 storm with top sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph). At 5 p.m. EDT, Dorian was centered about 420 miles (675 kph) east of the northwestern Bahamas. That’s also about 595 miles (960 kilometers) east of West Palm, Beach, Florida.

The government of the Bahamas has issued a hurricane warning for several islands in the northwest region of that island chain. Hurricane conditions are expected in the hurricane warning area of the northwestern Bahamas by Sunday.

___

4:55 p.m.

Officials at Florida’s largest airport say it will halt commercial flight operations early Monday in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian.

Officials at Orlando International Airport said in a statement Friday that airplanes will stop flying in and out of the airport starting at 2 a.m. Monday. Airport officials say that will give Orlando International Airport’s 25,000 workers enough time to secure their homes and be with their families.

The airport had 47.7 million passengers travel through it last year.

___

4:45 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian, now a massive Category 3 hurricane, is moving toward the east coast of Florida.

As the storm approaches the U.S. and continues to gain strength, preparations are underway ahead of its pending landfall, expected sometime Sunday or Monday.

WSFA-TV reports the Federal Emergency Management Agency is moving personnel and 18-wheelers loaded with supplies into position. One of the staging areas is Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery.

And, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says she gave approval Friday for the Alabama National Guard to send up to 50 support personnel to Florida, should the need arise.

___

2:20 p.m.

AAA says there’s plenty of gas in Florida as Hurricane Dorian approaches. It’s just a matter of getting it to the state’s gas stations.

The auto and travel service group said Friday in a statement that retailers are having trouble keeping up with surging demand since gas stations can only hold so much fuel at a time.

AAA says Florida will continue to get shipments of gas as long as its ports stay open.

The primary delivery points are ports in Jacksonville, Tampa, and Fort Lauderdale. From the ports, the fuel is delivered to gas stations by tanker trucks.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered state troopers to escort the trucks to the gas stations.

Dorian strengthened to a major Category 3 hurricane Friday, capable of inflicting devastating damage. It is expected to reach the Florida coast by late Monday or early Tuesday.

___

2 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian has strengthened to a major Category 3 storm. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the hurricane is “extremely dangerous” and poses a significant threat to Florida and the northwestern Bahamas.

Dorian was located 445 miles (715 kilometers) east of the northwest Bahamas at 2 p.m. EDT on Friday. It had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) and was moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).

A hurricane watch was in effect for northwestern Bahamas. Hurricane conditions are possible by Sunday.

The center said additional strengthening is expected as the storm approaches the Florida peninsula.

Dorian was located 445 miles (715 kilometers) east of the northwest Bahamas at 2 p.m. EDT on Friday. It had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) and was moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).

A hurricane watch was in effect for northwestern Bahamas. Hurricane conditions are possible by Sunday.

The center said additional strengthening is expected as the storm approaches the Florida peninsula.


12:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump has declared an emergency in the state of Florida as it braces for the brunt of Hurricane Dorian .

Trump, whose Florida properties could sustain damage, has warned that Dorian could be an “absolute monster.”

In issuing the emergency declaration, Trump has ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local efforts responding to Dorian. The storm is expected to strengthen into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 form and slam the Florida coast late Monday or early Tuesday.

Trump canceled a weekend trip to Poland so he could stay in Washington to monitor the storm.


11:30 a.m.

The sounds of hammers banging into plywood and cash registers dinging are echoing across the Bahamas as the archipelago that lies southeast of Florida rushes to prepare for Hurricane Dorian .

The Category 2 storm is expected to strengthen in its approach to the northwest Bahamas on Saturday and then move over or near that region Sunday.

Dorian was located 480 miles (770 kilometers) east of the northwest Bahamas at 11 a.m. EDT on Friday. It had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) and was moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).

A hurricane watch was in effect for northwestern Bahamas, where long lines formed at gas stations and grocery stores Friday. Supplies like canned food and bottled water were quickly disappearing in Grand Bahama Island.

————————————————————————————————-

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:

  • Northwestern Bahamas

There are no other coastal watches or warnings currently in effect, but they are expected to be issued for parts of the Bahamas and Florida in the coming days.

————————————————————————————————-

By ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON and ELLIS RUA Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Dorian powered toward Florida with increasing fury Friday, becoming an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm but leaving forecasters uncertain whether it would make a direct hit on the state’s east coast or inflict a glancing blow.

The storm’s winds rose to 130 mph (215 kph) and then, hours later, to a howling 140 mph (225 kph) as Dorian gained strength while crossing warm Atlantic waters. The hurricane could wallop the state with even higher winds and torrential rains late Monday or early Tuesday, with millions of people in the crosshairs, along with Walt Disney World and President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Though Dorian is growing in intensity, some of the more reliable computer models predicted a late turn northward that would have Dorian hug the coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

“There is hope,” Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said.

The faint hope came on a day in which Dorian seemed to get scarier with each forecast update, growing from a dangerous Category 3 hurricane to an even more menacing Category 4 storm. And there were fears it could prove to be the most powerful hurricane to hit Florida’s east coast in nearly 30 years.

Late Friday, the National Hurricane Center’s projected new track showed Dorian hitting near Fort Pierce, some 70 miles (115 kilometers) north of Mar-a-Lago, then running along the coastline as it moved north. But forecasters cautioned that the storm’s track was still highly uncertain and even a small deviation could put Dorian offshore or well inland.

Trump declared a state of emergency in Florida and authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster-relief efforts. He told reporters that “Mar-a-Lago can handle itself” and is more worried about Florida.

“This is big and is growing, and it still has some time to get worse,” Julio Vasquez said at a Miami fast-food joint next to a gas station that had run out of fuel. “No one knows what can really happen. This is serious.”

As Dorian closed in, it upended people’s Labor Day weekend plans. Major airlines began allowing travelers to change their reservations without a fee. The big cruise lines began rerouting their ships. Disney World and the other resorts in Orlando found themselves in the storm’s projected path.

Jessica Armesto and her 1-year-old daughter, Mila, had planned to have breakfast with Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy at Disney World. Instead, Armesto decided to take shelter at her mother’s hurricane-resistant house in Miami with its kitchen full of nonperishable foods.

“It felt like it was better to be safe than sorry, so we canceled our plans,” she said.

Still, with Dorian days away and its track uncertain, Disney and other major resorts held off announcing any closings, and Florida authorities ordered no immediate mass evacuations.

“Sometimes if you evacuate too soon, you may evacuate into the path of the storm if it changes,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Homeowners and businesses rushed to cover their windows with plywood. Supermarkets ran out of bottled water, and long lines formed at gas stations, with fuel shortages reported in places. The governor said the Florida Highway Patrol would begin escorting fuel trucks to help them get past the lines of waiting motorists and replenish gas stations.

At a Publix supermarket in Cocoa Beach, Ed Ciecirski of the customer service department said the pharmacy was extra busy with people rushing to fill prescriptions. The grocery was rationing bottled water and had run out of dry ice.

“It’s hairy,” he said.

As of 11 p.m. EDT, Dorian was centered about 375 miles (605 kilometers) east of the northwestern Bahamas. That was also about 545 miles (880 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach with the storm packing sustained winds of 140 mph (225 kph). It was moving west-northwest at 10 mph (17 kph). Forecasters warned that its slow movement could subject Florida to a prolonged and destructive pummeling from wind, storm surge and heavy rain.

Coastal areas could get 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain, with 18 inches (46 centimeters) in some places, triggering life-threatening flash floods, the hurricane center said. FEMA official Jeff Byard said Dorian is likely to “create a lot of havoc” for roads, power and other infrastructure.

Also imperiled were the Bahamas , where canned food and bottled water were disappearing quickly and the sound of hammering echoed across the islands as people boarded up their homes. Dorian was expected to hit by Sunday with the potential for life-threatening storm surge that could raise water levels 15 feet above normal.

“Do not be foolish and try to brave out this hurricane,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. “The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life.”

In Florida, the governor urged nursing homes to take precautions to prevent tragedies like the one during Hurricane Irma two years ago, when the storm knocked out the air conditioning at a facility in Hollywood and 12 patients died in the sweltering heat. Four employees of the home were charged with manslaughter earlier this week.

DeSantis said the timely message from those arrests is: “It’s your responsibility to make sure you have a plan in place to protect those folks.”

At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, NASA moved a 380-foot-high mobile launch platform to the safety of the colossal Vehicle Assembly Building, built to withstand 125 mph (200 kph) wind. The launcher is for the mega rocket that NASA is developing to take astronauts to the moon.

The hurricane season typically peaks between mid-August and late October. One of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S. was on Labor Day 1935. The unnamed Category 5 hurricanecrashed ashore along Florida’s Gulf Coast on Sept. 2. It was blamed for over 400 deaths.

It’s a battle of mammoth meteorological forces, and at stake is where Hurricane Dorian strikes the United States.

Four days before the system is expected to come ashore, Dorian could hit practically anywhere in Florida because the weather forces that will determine its path have not yet had their showdown, meteorologists said. As of Thursday, the National Hurricane Center had practically all of eastern Florida in a cone of uncertainty, meaning the entire region was at risk.

Forecasters are fairly confident about one thing: Dorian will be powerful.

With 86-degree water as fuel and favorable moist winds, there’s little to prevent the storm from powering up Friday. On top of that, the warmer-than-normal water is running deeper than usual, adding more fuel. The hurricane center predicts Dorian will make landfall on Labor Day as a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds.

Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist at the center, said there’s a chance for a “fairly dramatic” change in storm direction on Saturday based on what’s happening in the atmosphere and the storm altering its own environment, helping to steer its own path.

The forces that will determine Dorian’s fate — and that of Florida — are already at work.

A high pressure system is building over Bermuda, acting as a wall and blocking storms from curving north, which is a natural pathway. It is essentially pushing Dorian westward, more toward densely populated southern Florida, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

Meanwhile, a low pressure system in the Midwest is chugging eastward. When it clashes with the Bermuda high, there’s a chance it will nibble away at the western edges, allowing a weakening in that wall and pulling Dorian to the northwest toward Cape Canaveral or Jacksonville, with a small chance of the storm heading north of Florida, said Weather Underground Meteorology Director Jeff Masters, who used to fly into hurricanes for forecasts.

Whichever one of those forces wins — the blocking high or the pulling low — Florida is likely to lose.

Dorian will have a lot to say about its own movements. Stewart said the storm can feed back on its surroundings and modify them, effectively allowing the hurricane to chart its own course.

Stewart sees the high pressure system winning, with an assist from Dorian itself. That means following a track that points generally toward Palm Beach County and President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Colorado State hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said the slower the storm moves, the more time there is for the atmospheric wall to weaken and Dorian to be pulled farther north. That’s why Klotzbach sees similarities between Dorian and 2004’s Frances , which hit Stuart, Florida, with 105 mph winds and caused nearly $9 billion in damage in the United States.

So far, Dorian is a relatively small storm. Because of that “a small change in track can make big differences in terms of where it ends up,” Klotzbach said.

A slower speed also means Dorian can dump more rain and bring more opportunities for storm surges to hit during high tide. And a new moon means extra high tides, Masters said.

“If it makes landfall as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, that’s a big deal,” McNoldy said. “A lot of people are going to be affected. A lot of insurance claims. It’s still quite an ordeal.”

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