Millions in South Carolina and Florida are under mandatory orders to evacuate as Hurricane Dorian approaches the east coast.
Earlier this week, the hurricane left large-scale wreckage and devastation in the northwest Bahamas. It made landfall on the islands late Sunday as a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest a storm can get. It hit the islands as one of the strongest hurricanes on record in the Atlantic Ocean and remained in the area until late Tuesday. The storm stayed in roughly the same position for 12 hours; from Monday to Tuesday, it only moved 30 miles in 30 hours, delivering constant winds and downpours to the islands. On Monday, the primary airport in Freeport was mostly underwater. The following day, Hurricane Dorian downgraded to a Category 2 storm with winds nearing 110 mph.
Despite the category decrease, the storm continued to grow in size as it passed over the Bahamas. The storm induced severe flooding and caused home-wreckage. Up to 13,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, and at least five hurricane-related deaths have been identified.
Matthew Cochrane, a spokesperson for the International Red Cross, said the organization authorized half a million dollars for disaster relief. “What we are hearing lends credence to the fact that this has been a catastrophic storm,” Cochrane said.
Dorian is expected to pass near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts late Wednesday night and Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center. On Thursday evening, the storm will creep near the North Carolina coast. The storm is no longer expected to hit Florida but will creep dangerously close to the coast, according to CNN.
Downpours will continue around the Southeast through Friday and are estimated to result in flooding. Parts of Florida and Georgia’s coasts are expected to receive between three and nine inches of rain. In preparation for the storm, more than 1,300 flights have been canceled within the U.S. and to-and-from the country. It is likely that up to approximately 1,000 more flights will be canceled.
As the storm approaches the east coast, it continues to grow in size. As of Tuesday afternoon, hurricane-force winds extended 60 miles out of the center of the storm, while tropical storm–force winds extended out 175 miles. The National Hurricane Center is warning people on the east coast not to be fooled by a false sense of safety because of the decrease in Dorian’s speeds. The center emphasizes that the combined wind, surge and flood hazards will likely get worse as the storm becomes larger.