Monday,  January 20, 2020  1:49 pm

Hurricane Dorian kills 5 in Bahamas, now heading for Florida


Hurricane Dorian kills 5 in Bahamas, now heading for Florida
Photo: Tourism Today Bahamas
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: christine@paxglobalmedia.com.

On Sept. 1, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm.

READ MORE: Canadian airlines extend travel waivers as Dorian strengthens into a major hurricane

The hurricane hit over Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco, pummeling the island with wind speeds reaching more than 250 kilometres per hour, and storm surges between 12 and 18 feet above normal tide levels. For more than 24 hours, Dorian continued to batter Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands, finally letting up on Monday (Sept. 2).

At least five people have been confirmed dead, the New York Times reports, and the damage is extensive, with roofs flung off of homes, and downed trees, hydro poles, squashed cars, and debris littering the flooded streets.

Where the hurricane hit

Severe and widespread flooding in parts of the Northwest and Central Bahamas has been reported. 

The Bahamian capital of Nassau, as well as neighboring Paradise Island, remain open but are experiencing periods of rain. Islands in the Southeastern and Central Bahamas remain unaffected, including The Exumas, Cat Island, San Salvador, Long Island, Acklins/Crooked Island, Mayaguana and Inagua.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors in two of our northern islands, Abaco and Grand Bahama Island, which have been directly impacted by Hurricane Dorian," said Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Director General Joy Jibrilu. "At this time we are doing everything we can to support these islands as first responders begin rescue efforts and assess damage. We are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of all those in Abaco and Grand Bahama Island, and continue to be grateful that the majority of our 700 islands and cays have been unaffected."

Airport, cruise, & hotel updates

Hotels, resorts and tourism businesses throughout the Northwest Bahamas have activated their hurricane response programs and are taking all necessary precautions to protect visitors and residents. 

Visitors are strongly advised to check directly with airlines, hotels and cruise lines regarding possible impacts to travel plans.

Resorts in Nassau and Paradise Island remain open

The Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) remains open, although travellers should check with their airline directly as schedules may vary. 

The following is a status update on airports, hotels, airlines and cruise schedules at this time.

AIRPORTS

  • Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in Nassau remains open. Travellers should contact their airlines directly for any schedule changes. The next update will be issued at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
  • Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO) is closed.
  • Leonard Thompson International Airport (MHH) in Marsh Harbour, Abaco is closed.

HOTELS
Reservation holders should contact properties directly for complete information, as this is not a comprehensive list.

  • Hotels in The Abacos and Grand Bahama Island have strongly advised guests to leave and have assisted in evacuation procedures in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian's arrival.

FERRY, CRUISE AND PORTS

  • Bahamas Ferries have cancelled all weekend operations and sailings until further notice. Passengers seeking further information should call   242-323-2166.
  • Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's Grand Celebration has canceled weekend operations and will resume immediately following the passage of Hurricane Dorian.
  • Grand Bahama Island's Freeport Harbour is closed.
  • Nassau ports are open and operating on their normal schedule.

A hurricane warning remains in effect for portions of the Northwest Bahamas: The Abacos, Grand Bahama Island, Bimini and The Berry Islands. 

The Caribbean Tourism organization (CTO) has set up a Hurricane Relief Fund "which has been established to help our people and countries rebuild after disasters." Please visit https://www.gofundme.com/hurricane-relief-fund-cto to donate to the fund.

Is Florida next?

As it moves away from the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian, now a Category 3 storm, is now creeping closer to Florida.

A storm surge warning is currently in effect for Lantana, FL to Savannah River, and a storm surge watch is in effect for North of Deerfield Beach, FL to south of Lantana FL, and Savannah River to South Santee River SC. While the centre of the hurricane might not hit Florida, the effects from its expected path along the East Coast have the potential to do a lot of damage.

Surfers have been warned to stay out of the water, despite the appeal of the heightened waves.

A hurricane warning is currently in effect for Jupiter Inlet FL to Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, and a hurricane watch is in effect for North of Deerfield Beach, FL to Jupiter Inlet FL, as well as North of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL to South Santee River, SC.

A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, during the next 36 hours in the indicated locations, whereas a storm surge watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.

Walt Disney World has announced that it will be closing early as a result of the storm. Universal Orlando has also made adjustments to its park operations, stating that it will close down the water park at Volcano Bay.



According to the National Hurricane Center, Dorian is beginning to move northwestward at about 1 mph (2 km/h), and a slightly faster motion toward the northwest or north-northwest is expected later today and tonight.  A turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn to the north-northeast Thursday morning.  

On this track, the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will gradually move north of Grand Bahama Island through this evening. The hurricane will then move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late today through Wednesday evening, very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over the North Carolina coast late Thursday.

Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days, with heavy rainfall that could produce life-threatening flash-flooding.


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