The National Weather Service warned of “life-threatening storm surge and devastating winds” Aug. 31 to the northwestern Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the northwestern Bahamas and a hurricane warning is in effect for Andros Island. Forecasters predict it could hit the islands as early as Sept. 1, before moving up toward Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. As of 2 p.m., Dorian was moving west at 8 mph.
A hurricane warning means that a hurricane is expected to affect the area, while a watch means a hurricane could possibly affect the area.
Over two or three days, the hurricane could dump as much as 4 feet of rain and unleash high winds, according to private meteorologist Ryan Maue and some of the most reliable computer models.
The hurricane has already shut down most major resorts in the Bahamas and forced authorities to evacuate much of the northern shore and low-lying islands.
Any remaining tourists were sent to government shelters in schools, churches, and other buildings offering protection from the storm.
“My home is all battened up, and I’m preparing right now to leave in a couple of minutes. … We’re not taking no chances,” said Margaret Bassett, 55, a ferry boat driver for the Deep Water Cay resort who chose to leave her home. “They said evacuate, you have to evacuate. It’s for the best interests of the people.”
The prime minister of the Bahamas warned that any residents who were ordered to evacuate and didn’t “place themselves in great danger.”
Still, a few fishermen planned to ride it out, which could put them in extreme danger.
“Hoping for the best, that the storm passes and everybody is safe until we return home,” fisherman Tyrone Mitchell said. “All the ladies and children evacuated, and we have about six or seven men that [will] ride out the storm.”
The Bahamas on average faces a direct hit from a hurricane every four years. One Category 5 hurricane and seven Category 4 hurricanes have struck the Bahamas since storms were first recorded in 1851.
NOAA meteorologists are predicting that southeast Florida may get hit with strong winds as early as Sept. 1, and North Carolina by Sept. 4.
However, watches may be in effect for parts of east Florida starting later Aug. 31
Looking like our great South Carolina could get hit MUCH harder than first thought. Georgia and North Carolina also. It’s moving around and very hard to predict, except that it is one of the biggest and strongest (and really wide) that we have seen in decades. Be safe!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2019
The Associated Press contributed to this report