According to Hubert Minnis, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, the Royal Bahamas Police have confirmed the deaths of five people in Abaco following the slow passage of one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever to make landfall, over the Bahamas.

Although currently downgraded from a category 5 to a category 2 hurricane, Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas and the Eastern seaboard of the United States, with forecasters warning not only of the risks from storm force winds and rain, but also of storm surges as it continues its slow passage in the direction of the US coastline.

The latest forecast from the US National Hurricane Center indicate that although the eye has increased in size, it is also getting more ragged. The wind field likewise was reported to be increasing in size, but decreasing in intensity as of 11am EDT on 3rd September 2019.

President Trump’s suggestion that Hurricane Dorian would be “perhaps one of the biggest” appears to have been borne out, with Dorian becoming the joint strongest recorded landfalling Atlantic hurricane equalling the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 with maximum wind speeds of 185 mph. His inclusion of Alabama in a list of states at risk of being hit however drew a sharp rebuke from the National Weather Service Birmingham, Alabama which said in a tweet, “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east. #alwx.”

In their key messages to the public in the United States and the Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center stated the following:

1. Dangerous winds and storm surge will continue to affect Grand
Bahama Island for several more hours. Everyone there should remain
in shelter.

2. Life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds are expected
along portions of the Florida east coast and the coasts of Georgia
and South Carolina, regardless of the exact track of Dorian’s
center. Water levels could begin to rise well in advance of the
arrival of strong winds. Residents in these areas should follow
advice given by local emergency officials.

3. The risk of life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force
winds continues to increase along the coast of North Carolina.
Residents in these areas should follow advice given by local
emergency officials.

4. The flash flood threat will increase today and tonight along the
Florida peninsula, then spread up the southeast and mid-Atlantic
coast during the middle and latter part of the week.

The Office of the Governor of Florida gave details of the State’s preparedness actions in advance of the Hurricane striking. Eleven counties have been issued mandatory evacuation orders, while a further five have been issued with voluntary or stage orders. In addition, 110 shelters have been opened to the public.

The Department of Management Services has set up an emergency telecommunications provider coordination group to ensure coordinated recovery efforts to aid in the emergency response and recovery after the storm has passed. Moreover, the Governor’s website reports that there are “almost 25,000 linemen, tree crews, and support personnel staged around Florida to help quickly restore power.”

In other measures, 1.8 million meals have been made ready for distribution, over two thousand Florida guardsmen have been activated, and hospital, schools and elder care homes are taking preparatory measures.

Among the voluntary relief efforts announced, the Salvation Army has “33 mobile feeding kitchens on standby” with each unit prepared to serve 500-1,500 meals per day; the American Red Cross has “934 staff and 16 emergency response vehicles (ERVs) in the field staged for feeding and bulk distribution”; while Florida Baptist Disaster Relief has “two kitchens that have a 32,000 meal capacity per day”.

Preparations are also taking place in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.

Image (c) NASA.

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