Updated 1:05 p.m. ET
Hurricane Dorian is a Category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. After bringing intensely destructive winds and deadly flooding to the Bahamas, Dorian is “ambling” to the north-northwest, roughly paralleling Florida’s northern coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Dorian is roughly 100 miles northeast of Daytona Beach, moving at 9 mph, the NHC said in its 1 p.m. ET update. The storm is predicted to pivot toward the north-northeast — and around the same time, it’s expected to close some of the distance to the shore. Dorian’s core is forecast to move parallel to the Florida and Georgia coasts through tonight, the NHC says.
Dorian is blamed for at least seven deaths in the Bahamas, but that toll is still being tallied because of the scale of the severe destruction wrought there by a massive storm surge and strong winds.
Dorian is now bringing heavy rain and gusty winds to the U.S. Southeast coast. A precarious 24-hour period will begin early Thursday, when the hurricane’s center is forecast to move near or over the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina Thursday through Friday morning.
A storm surge warning is in effect for a huge area of the coastline, from north of Port Canaveral, Fla., through Georgia and South Carolina and up to through the Neuse and Pamlico rivers in North Carolina. The NHC says that in addition to the storm surge, areas along the coastal Carolinas could see an estimated 15 inches of rainfall.
Dangerous winds are also threatening a large area: Dorian is now sending hurricane-force winds outward up to 70 miles from its center; its tropical-storm-force winds extend for up to 175 miles.
In a late-morning briefing, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warns residents that roughly 90% of deaths in these storms are caused by water.
“The wind speed in the center, well that’s one thing, but it’s about the size, its about the storm surge and its about all that rainfall,” Graham says. “Water is the leading cause of fatalities in these tropical systems, so listen to those local officials.”
In the Bahamas, the response to the terrible damage includes rescue efforts from the U.S. Coast Guard and the British navy. The push to get relief supplies to the area is also drawing on aid groups. As of Wednesday morning, the international airport in Freeport was still flooded.
“People are getting desperate, because their roofs are ripped off and their food supplies got damaged or thrown all over the place” in the chain’s Abaco Islands, NPR’s Jason Beaubien reports from Nassau.
José Andrés, the renowned chef and philanthropist, rode out Dorian at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas in anticipation of feeding residents impacted by the storm.
“If there’s no kitchen initially we will try to … bring in the food daily, well, through a boat or a helicopter,” Andrés tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Wednesday’s Morning Edition.
He adds he’s gotten an assist in food preparation from guests at the Atlantis resort, where Andrés has a restaurant.
“They began coming, entire families, coming to help us make sandwiches,” Andrés says. “When you see things like this it’s really unbelievable.”
The Bahamas’ government was finally able to discontinue all tropical storm warnings early Wednesday — three days after it hit the island chain as a Category 5 storm, and nearly a week after the Bahamas issued its first hurricane alert last Thursday morning.
“All clear!” the Bahamas’ emergency agency announced on Wednesday. But it also warned that residents should still be on their guard against a number of possible threats, from downed power lines and trees to severe flooding and the potential for tornadoes.
Dorian has defied numerous forecasts, including initial predictions that it would buzz across Florida’s central east coast. Instead, its center has refused to make landfall on the U.S. And after booming into a Category 5 storm with gusts far above 200 mph over the weekend, Dorian has lost some strength — but forecasters warn it can still cause more damage.
“Some weakening is expected during the next couple of days, and Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days,” the NHC says. The extended forecast calls for Dorian to skirt the U.S. coast — and remain a hurricane until it reaches Nova Scotia this weekend.
As discussed yesterday, #Dorian's west side has now become nastier. This will continue to be the case as the storm comes up the coast. This is the land-facing side, so the eye doesn't need to come ashore in the Carolinas for the coast to feel the brunt.https://t.co/5FgKqsxadf pic.twitter.com/vhkD8Q5F8U
— Levi Cowan (@TropicalTidbits) September 4, 2019
In Virginia, the U.S. Navy ordered its Hampton Roads-based aircraft and ships to leave the area ahead of the storm. Starting Wednesday ships will begin leaving Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek and remain at sea until the storm passes.
The Navy says some planes will be flown to alternate airfields, while others will be secured in hangers.
“This allows time for our assets to transit safely out of the path of the storm,” Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis of the U.S. 2nd Fleet said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency head of Dorian’s anticipated impacts on the southeastern part of the state, which could begin to feel the storm’s impact by Thursday.
The beachgoers included North Carolina native Torie Kaveniss, who told Morgan she lives far enough from the water that she’s not very concerned.
“I live a mile inland, so I’m not really where I’m super worried about it,” she said. “If I lived on the beach here I’d probably be taking a little more precaution.”
On South Carolina’s coast, people have been ordered to evacuate or take shelter ahead of Dorian’s arrival. But as often happens in such cases, not everyone plans to leave.
The mandatory evacuation order took effect at noon Tuesday. But late Tuesday afternoon, Myrtle Beach was still fairly crowded, South Carolina Public Radio’s Scott Morgan reports.
In neighboring Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered a state of emergency that includes 21 coastal counties. At least six counties are under a mandatory evacuation order.
In Florida, people who seem to have avoided a direct hit by Dorian are now mounting supply drives to bring aid and relief materials to the Bahamas. A two-day supply drive in West Palm Beach is seeking first-aid kits, flashlights and other materials.
In Miami’s large Bahamian community, churches and the local government are working to send relief supplies to help ease those trapped on Grand Bahama and Abaco.
“Having lived through similar storms myself in the Bahamas, it’s really a harrowing, life-changing experience,” the Rev. Jonathan Archer of Christ Episcopal Church told member station WLRN. “We’re getting a lot of food, a lot of water, but we certainly need a lot more batteries, flashlights, tarp, rope.”