Watch As Cat-5 Dorian Devastates Bahamas In Historic Landfall

Update (06:00 p.m. ET): Abaco Island has sustained major damage according to the Hope Town Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. 

"Now is not a time to panic now is the time to plan how to get the recovery started. Hope Town Fire and Rescue will be heading up the efforts for recovery," said the department (h/t Epoch Times). 

To try and convey just how powerful Dorian is, the Air Force's Reconnaissance "hurricane hunter" planes are flying through what they call the "stadium effect" - which only happens in the strongest of hurricanes (also h/t Epoch Times). 

More footage of the devastation: 

Update (02:25 p.m. ET): Dorian has slammed hard into Great Abaco Island with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph 220 mph - exceeding the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center

Homes across the region have been destroyed by the storm which was strong enough to fling cars, while flooding was also caught on film. 

Update (11:00 a.m. ET): Dorian is now the strongest hurricane in modern records for the Northwestern Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center, with sustained winds of 180 mph, up from 160. 


Hurricane Dorian has been upgraded by the National Hurricane Center to a 'catastrophic' Category Five, the highest on its five-point scale.

The storm, which has sustained winds of 160 mph, is currently heading towards the Bahamas, while the NHC has also warned of a "life-threatening storm surge and very heavy rainfall" in the Great Abaco Islands located east of southern Florida. 

At around 8 a.m. EDT Dorian was located approximately 225 miles west of West Palm Beach, Florida, and just 35 miles from the Great Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama - home to around 70,000 people.

"The core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian should be moving over Great Abaco soon, and continue near or over Grand Bahama Island later tonight and Monday. The hurricane should move closer to the Florida east coast late Monday through Tuesday night," said senior NHS hurricane specialist Lixion Avila. 

According to Bloomberg, Florida's eastern coast is now under a tropical storm watch from Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet. 

"The forecast for Florida is improving but nosediving for North and South Carolina," said Energy Weather Group chief meteorologist, Jim Rouiller late Saturday. "They will probably have to deal with a Category 2 or 3. They are under the gun now."

Rouiller said for Florida to be in the clear Dorian has to make that crucial turn Monday.

“It is like the 800-pound gorilla in the china shop,” Rouiller said. “I will just wait until the gorilla makes its way out the front door.”

Dorian, one of five storms to form in the Atlantic this year, menaced the U.S. Virgin Islands earlier this week and is about to batter the Bahamas with a storm surge that could reach 15 feet (4.6 meters) above tide levels and 10 to 15 inches of rain. The storm, now at the top of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was thought to be aimed at Florida’s east coast, But more forecast models now predict it will turn north up the coast, possibly even making a landfall in eastern North Carolina Wednesday or Thursday, Rouiller said. -Bloomberg

"Residents should have their hurricane plan in place, know if they are in a hurricane evacuation zone and listen to advice given by local emergency officials," said the NWS Sunday morning, adding "There is an increasing risk of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week." 

"Residents in these areas should continue to monitor the progress of Dorian."

According to NBC News, tourists in the Bahamas have been evacuated to government shelters located in churches and schools. 

"Homes, houses, structures can be replaced," said Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Saturday. "Lives cannot be replaced."

Cliff Mass explains why there is so much uncertainty around Darian's path.

It has to do with steering currents.  Hurricanes tracks--or trajectories in time---are controlled by the large scale flow around them....which is called a steering current.

For strong storms like Dorian, the steering flow can be represented by the flow speed and direction averaged from around 5000 ft to 30,000 ft (or roughly 850 hPa to 300 hPa in pressure).  If the flow becomes weak or if there is a large change in steering flow in distance, hurricanes can stagnate or move erratically.  

The current (2 PM Saturday)steering flow analysis by NOAA CIMMS is consistent with westward movement of the storm (the arrows show the flow direction and the hurricane is indicated by the red marker).

But this changes during the next few days, with the flow weakening over the region and the subtropical high moving eastward (steering flow prediction by HWRF model for Monday at 5 PM PDT shown).  The result is a northerly component to the steering flow and the shift to the right.

But let's be clear...this is all on the edge, and it would not take a large prediction error to allow the storm to drift further to the west...and thus onshore.  

The weak steering flows make this inherently a difficult forecast, even for the best of the current models.   A verification of position errors by Professor Brian Tang of U. of Albany suggests the U.S. FV-3 model (dark blue color) and been similar in skill to the European Model (purple color) for 12-96 hr forecasts, with the Euro being significantly better at 120 hr.  The position errors are quite large compared to recent hurricanes. But these are early times.