During the overnight hours, Hurricane Dorian has pounded the northern Bahamas with devastating winds, storm surge levels of 20 feet above normal, and very heavy rainfall. Dorian has tied the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 with the highest landfalling wind speeds in the Atlantic basin, hitting Great Abaco Island with 185-mph winds.
The storm has weakened slightly this morning, as its eye has expanded, and its organization lessened a little bit. As of 8am ET, the National Hurricane Center estimated winds at 165 mph.
Another significant problem is that as high pressure to the north of Dorian has weakened during the last 24 hours, causing the storm’s steering currents to collapse. This has led Dorian to essentially halt over Grand Bahama Island on Monday morning, prolonging the Category 5 hurricane misery over the northern Bahamas. The tweet from the National Hurricane Center’s Eric Blake demonstrates this painful stall over the Bahamas.
Horrible situation for Grand Bahama Island this morning as #Dorian just sits there as a category 5 hurricane. Reminds me of Wilma near Cozumel where it stalled and caused tremendous damage. Stay safe! ?? pic.twitter.com/aa6h56R59O
— Eric Blake ? (@EricBlake12) September 2, 2019
Eventually, a trough moving southeastward through the Midwestern United States will get close enough to Dorian such that it picks up the storm, and pulls it northward, and then toward the northeast. However, it increasingly looks like this turn will come very close to the Florida coast.
Another trend during the overnight hours has been a convergence of the global forecast models, as well as hurricane specific-models such as the HWRF and HMON, all of which bring Dorian very near to the Florida coast—perhaps somewhere in the vicinity of Melbourne, Titusville, and the Kennedy Space Center.
Under some of these scenarios, the left part of Dorian’s eyewall comes ashore, or very nearly so, on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. During that time frame, the National Hurricane Center forecasts Dorian to retain a maximum wind speed of 140mph, still rated a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir Simpson scale.
After nearing or touching the Florida coast, Dorian will likely bend along the western periphery of a high pressure ridge, which should keep it pretty close to parallel to the US coast. Dorian’s center could approach or briefly make landfall in Georgia or the Carolinas. Storm surge, winds, and heavy inland rainfall are all significant threats as Dorian moves up the southeastern United States Atlantic coast.
Such a track would be similar to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, with similar or worse damages depending on Dorian’s track. Matthew caused an estimated $10 billion in damage to the United States, along with 34 direct fatalities, according to the National Hurricane Center’s official report on the storm.