Hurricane Dorian Pounds Northwest Bahamas, Warning Issued for Florida

Hurricane Dorian pounded the Northwestern Bahamas on Sunday afternoon and a Hurricane Warning was issued for a portion of the southeast Florida coast.  Dorian was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Hurricane Dorian was locate at latitude 26.6°N and longitude 77.3°W which put it about 175 miles (280 km) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.  Dorian was moving toward the west at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 185 m.p.h. (295 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 220 m.p.h. (355 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 910 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was issued for the portion of the coast of Florida from Jupiter Inlet to the Volusia/Brevard County Line.  Hurricane Warnings were also in effect for the Northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.  Hurricane Watches were in effect for the portion of the coast from Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet, Florida and from the Volusia/Brevard County Line to the Flagler/Volusia County Line.  A Hurricane Watch was also in effect for Andros Island.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet, Florida.  Tropical Storm Watches were in effect for the portion of the coast from  Golden Beach to Deerfield Beach, Florida and for Lake Okeechobee.

The core of Hurricane Dorian moved over Great Abaco Island on Sunday afternoon.  Dorian intensified rapidly to an intense Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale when it reached the warm water around the Bahamas.  The pressure decreased rapidly to 910 mb and the winds increased to 185 m.p.h. (295 km/h).  There was a circular eye with a diameter of 12 miles (19 km) at the center of Hurricane Dorian.  The eye was surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Dorian.  Storms near the core were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the hurricane.

The circulation around Hurricane Dorian increased in size on Sunday.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 45 miles (75 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 140 miles (220 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Dorian was 44.1.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 14,3 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 58.4.  Hurricane Dorian was capable of causing regional catastrophic damage.  Dorian was stronger than Hurricane Andrew was when Andrew hit southeast Florida in 1992.

Hurricane Dorian will remain in a favorable environment for intense hurricanes for another 24 to 36 hours.  Dorian will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  It will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  It appeared that an inner rainband may have wrapped around the existing eye and eyewall.  Radar images indicated that there could be two concentric eyewalls.  If there are two eyewalls, then an eyewall replacement cycle is underway.  Hurricane Dorian will weaken, at least temporarily when the inner eyewall dissipates.  However, Dorian will get larger when the strongest winds occur in the outer eyewall.

Hurricane Dorian will move near the western end of a subtropical high pressure system over the western Atlantic Ocean.  The high will steer Dorian slowly toward the west-northwest during the next 24 to 36 hours.  Eventually, Hurricane Dorian will move more toward the north when it moves around the western end of the high.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Dorian will linger over the Northwestern Bahamas on Sunday night.  The core of Dorian will pass over or very near Grand Bahama Island.  It could cause catastrophic damage on the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island.  Hurricane Dorian could approach the east coast of Florida on Tuesday.