MIAMI (AP) — Weather forecasters say predictions that powerful Hurricane Dorian will slow to a crawl over the Bahamas complicates their outlook for the United States.
The National Hurricane Center says Dorian could nearly stall over Great Abaco Island or Grand Bahama Island for more than 24 hours starting late Sunday.
Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham says that would be catastrophic for the island chain. Dorian was upgraded to the most powerful designation of Category 5, with maximum sustained winds increasing to 160 mph (260 kph). Forecasters say ocean levels could rise up to 20 feet (6 meters) in parts of the northern Bahamas with the storm surge topped with huge waves.
Graham says the storm stalling also complicates the U.S. forecast. The time allows small changes in the winds that steer the storm, which means Dorian can still make landfall anywhere from Florida to North Carolina during the next five days.
Weather forecasters say Hurricane Dorian has intensified to a Category 5 storm, capable of inflicting catastrophic levels of destruction.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday that Dorian’s maximum sustained winds have increased to 160 mph (260 kph), up from 150 mph (240 kph). It is moving west at 8 mph (13 kph)
“Devastating hurricane conditions” are expected in the Abacos Islands early Sunday, with conditions will spread across Grand Bahama Island later in the day, the center said.
In its advisory at 8 a.m. EDT, the center says the storm’s center is 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Great Abaco Island and 225 miles (360 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach.