Dangerous Hurricane Dorian Nears Northwestern Bahamas

Dangerous Hurricane Dorian neared the Northwestern Bahamas on Saturday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Dorian was located at latitude 26.3°N and longitude 75.1°W which put it about 125 miles (200 km) east of Great Abaco and about 310 miles (500 km) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.  Dorian was moving toward the west at 8 m.p.h. (13 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h)  and there were wind gusts to 185 m.p.h. (315 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 940 mb.

Hurricane Warnings were in effect for the Northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.  A Hurricane Watch was in effect for Andros Island.  A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast from Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet, Florida.

Hurricane Dorian remains a very dangerous, well organized storm.  Dorian has maintained Category 4 intensity on the Saffir-Simpson Scale for 24 hours.  A circular eye with a diameter of 15 miles (24 km) was clearly visible on conventional and microwave satellite imagery.  The eye was surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  The maximum sustained wind speed at the surface was 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h) and data from dropsondes indicated that the wind was stronger a few hundred feet above the surface.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Hurricane Dorian.  Storms near the core were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the hurricane.

Winds to hurricane force extended out about 30 miles (50 km) from the center of Hurricane Dorian.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 105 miles (170 km) from the center of circulation.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Dorian was 33.3.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 11.7and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 45.0.  Hurricane Dorian is capable of causing regional significant damage.

Hurricane Dorian will remain in an environment capable of supporting a very strong hurricane for several more days.  Dorian will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  There will be a potential for Hurricane Dorian to strengthen to Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  At some point eyewall replacement cycles are likely to cause fluctuations in intensity.

Hurricane Dorian will move around the western end of a subtropical high pressure system during the next 24 to 48 hours.  The high will steer Dorian slowly toward the west.  Hurricane Dorian could move very slowly when it reaches the western end of the ridge.  Eventually, Dorian will turn toward the north when it moves around the end of the ridge.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Dorian will reach the Northwestern Bahamas by Sunday evening.  The core of Dorian will move very close to the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island.  Hurricane Dorian could cause significant wind damage.  Dorian could also produce a storm surge of up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) in places where the wind blows water toward the shoreline.