Hurricane Dorian has upgraded to the most powerful classification of Category 5 as it continues its path into the Bahamas.
The Associated Press reports the hurricane has increased its wind speed, currently holding a maximum sustain wind speed of 160 mph, but has slowed in its projected pathway.
BREAKING: Hurricane Dorian has intensified to a potentially catastrophic Category 5 storm, forecasters say.
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 1, 2019
According to the report, the storm may rest over the Great Abaco Island or Grand Bahama Island for more than a day. This would undoubtedly bring devastation to the islands and the surrounding area.
The hurricane’s stalling also proves difficult for weather experts to accurately predict where the storm will be heading next—and how strong it will be at that time.
— Michael Lowry (@MichaelRLowry) September 1, 2019
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, adding that 73,000 people and 21,000 homes were at risk to storm surges, which are predicted to reach up to 20 feet (6.1 meters).
NEW: #Dorian is now a category 5 #hurricane with 160 mph sustained winds. The eyewall of this catastrophic hurricane is about to hit the Abaco Islands with devastating winds. Next advisory: https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/oFspgN0XbT
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 1, 2019
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Dorian had maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour (260 km per hour) early on Sunday and was about 35 miles (55 km) east of Abaco.
After churning over the Bahamas, it is expected to veer northwest toward Florida, with the NHC raising its alert on Sunday for parts of the state’s east coast to a tropical storm warning.
While not expected to strike Florida, the NHC said “a Florida landfall is still a distinct possibility.”