U.S. braced as 'catastrophic' hurricane crashes into Bahamas

Florida Department of Health staffers set up beds at an evacuation shelter for people with special needs in preparation for Hurricane Dorian at Dr. David L. Anderson Middle School in Stuart Fla. Sunday Sept. 1 2019. Some coastal areas are under a

Florida Department of Health staffers set up beds at an evacuation shelter for people with special needs in preparation for Hurricane Dorian at Dr. David L. Anderson Middle School in Stuart Fla. Sunday Sept. 1 2019. Some coastal areas are under a

The potential path of Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, is seen in this graphic released by the National Hurricane Center on September 1, 2019.

Already, the outer bands of the powerful hurricane are beginning to affect the island chain, with rain and strong winds sweeping across the area.

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

The latest National Hurricane Center (NHC) advisory on Dorian has it weakening into a Category 4 by Tuesday as it tears through Florida's east coast.

"Even the slightest deviation from Dorian's projected path could be a catastrophic event for our community", said West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James.

"That could produce life-threatening storm surge and hurricane force winds", DeSantis said.

"It's going to be very bad for the Bahamas", said the Hurricane Centre director Ken Graham, calling Dorian a "very treacherous, very unsafe, life-threatening situation" for the islands.

On Friday, Aug. 30, Governor Tony Evers signed an executive order authorizing Major General Don Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, to call elements of the Wisconsin National Guard to state active duty to assist civil authorities in Florida impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

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.

The center of the storm is around 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of Grand Bahama's largest city, Freeport.

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 risky".

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Over two or three days, the slow-moving hurricane could dump as much as 1m of rain, unleash devastating winds and whip up a unsafe storm surge, said private meteorologist Ryan Maue.

With its maximum sustained winds of 295kmh, it tied the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to come ashore, equaling the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before the storms were named.

Hurricane Dorian has crashed into the Bahamas as the second strongest Atlantic storm on record and is forecast to move dangerously close to Florida in the next two days, United States forecasters say.

Hurricanes of this power would be expected to cause widespread, catastrophic damage. The hurricane was approaching the eastern end of Grand Bahama island in the evening, forecasters said.

U.S. correspondent Rebecca Wright has the latest on the monster Category 5 hurricane.

Jack Pittard, a 76-year-old American who has visited the Bahamas for 40 years, also made a decision to stay put on Abaco for Dorian, which he said was his first hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center characterized the situation as "life-threatening" in a midnight Sunday statement.

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

Parts of the Abacos were underwater as forecasters warned they faced a towering 18 to 23-foot storm surge.

The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with its 305kmh winds.

The storm's top sustained winds have decreased slightly to 180 miles per hour (290 kph) while it spun along Grand Bahama island early Monday in what forecasters say will be a daylong assault.

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