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Hurricane Dorian Updates: Category 5 Storm Batters Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian remained a catastrophic Category 5 storm early Monday morning as it moved over the Bahamas, although its winds weakened slightly, to 165 miles an hour. Gusts blew at up to 200 m.p.h.

The storm ground nearly to a halt over Grand Bahama Island, about 120 miles off the coast of Florida, slowing to just 1 m.p.h., according to the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters also inched the storm’s much-monitored cone of uncertainty eastward, sparing parts of Orlando from the center of the hurricane’s projected path. While forecasters are predicting that the eye may not reach the Florida coast, they cautioned that it still could. Either way, strong winds are all but certain to disrupt life in that region.

[Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas and continued to threaten Florida.]

Some South Florida residents also could begin to feel tropical-storm-level winds (at least 39 m.p.h.) as soon as Monday morning, and a hurricane warning has been issued for about 140 miles of Florida’s east coast, from the Jupiter inlet to the northern edge of Brevard County.

As of Monday morning, Hurricane Dorian continued to thrash the Bahamas, where Louby Georges, the director of international affairs for Human Rights Bahamas, said at least one friend had run out of drinking water and others had left tearful voice messages for loved ones.

Dozens of worried families posted pleas for information about their loved ones on social media after losing contact for hours at the height of the storm. The weather center advised people on the island to remain in their shelter until conditions improved, warning that it could take several hours.

Videos on social media showed water rising around houses and devastating scenes of decimated homes, with roofs sheared from buildings and insulation strewn about the floor.

Officials in South Carolina and Georgia are growing increasingly anxious about the storm’s path toward their coastlines and have ordered many costal residents to evacuate. Hurricane Dorian is now projected to approach those two states as a major hurricane, and strong winds could reach Georgia by Tuesday.

“We know that we cannot make everybody happy, but we believe that we can keep everyone alive,” Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina said at a news conference, announcing that residents in portions of eight counties must begin evacuating by noon on Monday.

North Carolina’s governor also declared a state of emergency. State officials warned that heavy rain could cause life-threatening flooding between Wednesday night and Friday and that there was a possibility for tornadoes.

[Along Hurricane Dorian’s tortured path, millions are united in fear.]

Norma Lemon, the owner of a Caribbean-themed restaurant on South Carolina’s coast, has evacuated three times in the last few years because of several hurricanes. She said on Sunday that she was near tears at the thought of leaving her restaurant in Mosquito Beach again.

“It just feels like here we go again with this one, like it’s not going to be good, you know?” she said.

South Carolina could receive between 5 and 10 inches of rain, with isolated areas inundated with up to 15 inches.

As Hurricane Dorian’s outer rain bands moved over South Florida, the barrier island of Palm Beach, which is in a mandatory evacuation zone, felt eerily calm on Monday morning. Roads were empty. Businesses were closed and shuttered.

Still, a small crowd gathered along the beach, staring in awe at the wild gray waves crashing onto the shore.

“I just wanted to take a look at this — it’s crazy,” said Brandon Atkinson, 40, a West Palm Beach resident. “You admire it for the beauty but know its devastation.”

A handful of young surfers braved the water, despite warnings from the authorities.

“We’re not worried about the storm,” said one of them, adding that he had driven south from Vero Beach, Fla., and planned to continue driving south once the waves in Palm Beach got too big. “We’re probably going to surf all day.”

He encouraged his friends to join him, and they hopped onto the sand. “Come on — let’s surf,” he said.

Tropical-storm winds could arrive in West Palm Beach as early as Monday afternoon.

In preparation for the storm, Mr. Atkinson and his family lowered their air-conditioner to 67 degrees, a strategy to keep their home as cool as possible before the power goes out, which they fully expect.

“We’re local,” Mr. Atkinson said. “We’re just going to ride it out.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has said for days that coastal residents should expect to lose power.

Florida Power and Light Co., which serves about 10 million residents, announced that it had assembled 16,000 employees and contractors and asked them to be ready to respond to outages around the state.

“We’ve assembled the largest prestorm restoration work force in company history,” Eric Silagy, the company’s chief executive and president, said in a statement.

He added that the team would “work around the clock to restore power safely and as quickly as possible.”

As of Monday morning, there were no substantial power failures in the state.

  • Anticipating Dorian’s movements has been unusually difficult for forecasters.

  • As a newborn hurricane, Dorian hit the Virgin Islands but largely spared Puerto Rico.

  • What our photographers are seeing as Florida braces for a major hurricane.

Patricia Mazzei, Elisabeth Malkin and Richard Fausset contributed reporting.

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