Hurricane Dorian: Storm upgraded to category five as it heads towards Bahamas with 160mph winds

Hurricane Dorian: Storm upgraded to category five as it heads towards Bahamas with 160mph winds


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Hurricane Dorian has been upgraded to a category five storm with windspeeds of 160mph poised to cause “catastrophic” damage, experts have said.

The storm is heading towards the Bahamas where it is expected to pound the islands with up to two days of torrential rain, high waves and damaging winds before taking aim at the US mainland.

TheMiami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said today that it had been upgraded to a category five hurricane  on the five-step Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, with the eyewall expected to hit the Abaco Islands imminently. 

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis begged residents of Abaco and Grand Bahamas to head for the main island to escape the “devastating, dangerous” storm.

“I want you to remember: homes, houses, structures can be replaced. Lives cannot be replaced,” he told a news conference on Saturday.

He added that 73,000 people and 21,000 homes were at risk to storm surges, which are predicted to reach up to 20ft (6.1m). 

After churning over the Bahamas, Dorian is expected to veer northwest and could spareFloridaa direct hit.

Views of Hurricane Dorian from the International Space Station

Communities further north in Georgia and South Carolina raised alert levels on Saturday, with residents filling sandbags as authorities tested infrastructure and hurricane drills. 

This satellite image obtained from NOAA/RAMMB, shows Tropical Storm Dorian as it approaching the Bahamas and Florida (AFP/Getty Images)

Despite Dorian appearing to spare the US a direct impact, the NHC warned the Category 5 storm would lash millions from Florida to the Carolinas with strong winds and punishing surf.

Most tourists who planned to leave the Bahamas got out before the main airport closed on Friday night.

Jeffrey Simmons, the deputy director of Bahamas’ department of meteorology, said Dorian will cause prolonged periods of large swells and storm surges along the north coast of Grand Bahama and the north and east coast of Abaco.

Workers are pictured boarding up buildings in preparation for the storm (Getty Images)

Potential damage to the Bahamas from Dorian could be exacerbated by the fact that its westward motion is forecast to slow, keeping it over the islands for longer, the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

Grand Bahama and Abaco are hubs of the Bahamas’ thriving tourism industry. But after days of evacuations only 26 tourists are left on Grand Bahama, authorities said on Saturday.

“We have been for the last few days asking all tourists to leave the island in anticipation of the hurricane,” said Kwasi Thompson, minister of state for Grand Bahama. 

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnishas begged residents of Abaco and Grand Bahamas to head for the main island (AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has already declared a state of emergency and was briefed late on Saturday about the storm.

The hurricane upended some Labour Day holiday weekend plans in the US.

Major airlines allowed travellers to change their reservations without fees, big cruise lines rerouted their ships and Cumberland Island National Seashore off Georgia closed to visitors.

Predicted path of Hurricane Dorian

Disney World and Orlando’s other resorts held off announcing any closings.

Meanwhile, a new tropical storm has formed southwest of Mexico and is expected to become a hurricane on Monday.

Tropical Storm Juliette is 455 miles (735 km) from Manzanillo, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph), the NHC said on Sunday.

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