Hurricane Dorian has intensified to a Category 5 storm, capable of inflicting catastrophic levels of destruction, as it closes in on the northern Bahamas. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday that Dorian's maximum sustained winds have increased to 160mph, up from 150mph. It is moving west at 8mph. "Devastating hurricane conditions" are expected in the Abacos Islands early Sunday, and conditions will spread across Grand Bahama Island later in the day. The NHC's rainfall estimates for the northwestern Bahamas were upped to 12 to 24 inches, with isolated incidents of 30 inches, while estimates for the coastal Carolinas were between 5 to 10 inches of rain, with isolated cases of 15 inches. In the northern stretches of the Bahamas, hotels closed, residents boarded up homes, and officials hired boats to move people from low-lying areas to bigger islands as Dorian approached. Bahamas PM Hubert Minnis warned that Dorian is a "dangerous storm" and said any "who do not evacuate are placing themselves in extreme danger and can expect a catastrophic consequence."
Over two or three days, the slow-moving hurricane could dump as much as 4 feet of rain, unleash devastating winds, and whip up a dangerous storm surge, said meteorologist Ryan Maue, seconding some of the most reliable computer models. Government spokesman Kevin Harris said Dorian was expected to impact some 73,000 residents and 21,000 homes. In its advisory at 8am, the center says the storm's center is 35 miles east of Great Abaco Island and 225 miles east of West Palm Beach, reports the AP. The slow-crawling storm was predicted to take until Monday afternoon to pass over the Bahamas, and then turn sharply and skirt up the US coast, staying just off Florida and Georgia on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then buffeting South Carolina and North Carolina on Thursday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned residents along that state's densely populated Atlantic coast, "We're not out of the woods yet."
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