Hurricane Dorian was an extremely powerful and devastating Category 5 Atlantic hurricane.
It became the most intense tropical cyclone on record to strike the Bahamas, and is regarded as the worst natural disaster in the country’s history.
Dorian struck the Abaco Islands on September 1 with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (295 km/h), tying with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane for the highest wind speeds of an Atlantic hurricane ever recorded at landfall. Dorian went on to strike Grand Bahama at similar intensity, stalling just north of the territory with unrelenting winds for at least 24 hours. The resultant damage to these islands was catastrophic; most structures were flattened or swept to sea, and at least 70,000 people were left homeless. After it ravaged through the Bahamas, Dorian proceeded along the coasts of the Southeastern United States and Atlantic Canada, leaving behind considerable damage and economic losses in those regions.
In preparation for the storm, the states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia all declared a state of emergency and many coastal counties from Florida to North Carolina issued mandatory evacuation orders.
Dorian subsequently weakened to a Category 2 storm on September 3, before beginning to move northwestward at 15:00 UTC, parallel to the east coast of Florida, with Dorian’s wind field expanding during this time.
On August 28, Florida governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 26 counties in the hurricane’s expected path. This later expanded to the entire state on August 29. In Brevard County, locals worked to trim large tree branches to protect power lines. When it became apparent that Dorian would near the Florida coastline, a tropical storm watch was issued for the Florida east coast from Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet on August 31. It was upgraded to a tropical storm warning a few hours later. A hurricane watch was issued for the area north of Deerfield Beach on September 1, and it was upgraded to a hurricane warning later that day.
The night of September 1, a hurricane watch was issued for Volusia and Broward counties, which was later upgraded to a hurricane warning and extended down the coast.
On Sunday, September 1, Jacksonville, Florida, announced mandatory evacuations for Monday, September 2. The city bridges closed when wind speeds of 40 mph (64 km/h) were recorded. Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Atlantic Beach closed Sunday night. On September 2, a curfew was set in place for Flagler County. Legoland Florida and parts of Walt Disney World were closed on Tuesday.
On September 2, Florida began experiencing tropical storm-force winds. At 18:00 UTC (2 p.m. EDT), the pier in Juno Beach recorded a wind gust of 48 mph (75 km/h). During September 3 and 4, tropical storm force winds continued to move up the east coast of Florida, with the storm’s eye staying about 100 miles away from landfall.
Many areas along the Atlantic coast were reporting gusts of over tropical storm force, especially at Cape Canaveral. At 8 AM EDT on September 4 at St. Augustine Beach, a sustained wind of 46 miles per hour (74 km/h) and a gust of 59 miles per hour (95 km/h) was reported. In Jacksonville, the city experienced tropical storm force winds on September 4 which blew around debris and knocked out power.
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