Dorian , the second most powerful hurricane on record in the Atlantic, continued pounding the northern Bahamas on Monday with extremely strong winds while slowing on its way toward Florida, the Miami -based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The NHC said in its 1500 GMT public advisory that the storm was located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama, and some 180 kilometers (110 miles) east of West Palm Beach , Florida, packing maximum sustained winds of 250 kph (155 mph).
The powerful Category 4 hurricane has slowed in the past 24 hours and is moving west at just 2 kph (1 mph).
“A slow westward to west-northwestward motion is forecast during the next day or so, followed by a gradual turn toward the northwest and north. On this track, the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will continue to pound Grand Bahama Island through much of today and tonight,” the NHC) said.
Forecasters said “the hurricane will then move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late tonight through Wednesday evening and then move dangerously close to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday.”
A hurricane warning has been issued for Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands in the northwestern Bahamas.
In Florida, the NHC has issued a storm surge warning from Lantana to the Flagler- Volusia County line, while a storm surge watch is in effect from north of Deerfield Beach to south of Lantana and from the Flagler-Volusia County line to the Savannah River.
A hurricane warning has been issued from Jupiter Inlet to the Flagler-Volusia County line.
The NHC has issued a hurricane watch from north of Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet and from the Flagler-Volusia County line to Altamaha, Sound Georgia.
A tropical storm warning is in effect from north of Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet, while a tropical storm watch is in effect from north of Golden Beach to Deerfield Beach and for Lake Okeechobee.
Forecasters said that “although gradual weakening is forecast, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days.”
The slow-moving storm is taking aim at Grand Bahama, where the NHC said “catastrophic hurricane conditions continue.”
Bahamian media reported that a 7-year-old boy was the first fatality from Hurricane Dorian in the archipelago.
Eyewitness News Bahamas Press reported that the boy drowned in the storm surge in the Abaco Islands and his sister was listed as missing.
Officials expect the death toll to rise due to the massive destruction caused by the hurricane on its path through the islands, the media outlets said.
The Red Cross said that wells in the Abacos were contaminated by the storm surge, making the provision of drinking water a priority.
Initial estimates are that the powerful hurricane destroyed or severely damaged 13,000 dwellings.
Videos posted on social media by residents of Grand Bahama show torrential rains pounding the island, which is 152 kilometers (about 95 miles) east of West Palm Beach, while trees are blown around in the increasingly powerful winds affecting the area.
Because Dorian is almost stationary, Grand Bahama is expected to be pounded by the powerful hurricane for hours.
At one point, Dorian had maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (295 kph), making it the second most powerful hurricane on record in the Atlantic, tying the record set by the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
Hurricane Allen, which hit the Caribbean, eastern and northern Mexico, and southern Texas in August 1980, holds the record for highest maximum sustained winds at 305 kph (190 mph). EFE