Hurricane Dorian now Category 5 storm, expected to hit the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island shortly

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Hurricane Dorian is now a massive Category 5 hurricane this morning with sustained winds of 160 MPH and and is only 35 miles east of Great Abaco Island in the Atlantic.

As Dorian continues to slowly move west towards the northwestern Bahamas the outer rain bands of Dorian are expected to reach Freeport and Nassau, with more intense rain falling on Great Abaco Island. Winds are starting pick up and will continue to increase through the morning.

But with the slow motion of Dorian, the prolonged duration of hurricane and tropical storm force winds with gusts over 100 MPH, storm surges of up to 20 feet and heavy rain of up to 30 inches locally in some areas will have potentially devastating impacts on the northern Bahamas.

Hurricane Dorian’s path continues with the trend that we’ve been seeing over the last day, keeping landfall away from Florida as the steering ridge of high pressure will weaken and allow for Dorian to take that turn to the north. The timing of that turn will be what determines the severity of impacts on Florida’s east coast.

While there are competing models for where the storm could hit, the east coast of Florida still should brace for potential landfall from Dorian.

Even without a landfall, storm surge, heavy rain, and tropical storm force winds will be felt. This is why a Tropical Storm Warning has been issued along the east coast from Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet -- including Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and Vero Beach. An additional tropical storm watch has also been issued from Golden Beach to Deerfield Beach.

As Dorian makes its northward turn Monday into Tuesday, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina will be on high alert. Although the official National Hurricane Center (NHC) track keeps the center of Dorian right off the coast as of now, the impacts will still be greatly felt.

We are still looking at Dorian being a Category 1 or 2 storm with winds of 90 to 100 MPH just off the coast making when the storm makes its closet approach to South Carolina and North Carolina Thursday into Friday.

There is still high uncertainty in the track 3-5 days out and Dorian still has the potential to make landfall in the southeast states.

The Bahamas should expect storm surges of up to 15-20 feet, rainfall of up to 30 inches, and prolonged hurricane-force winds, large and destructive waves, and wind gusts of over 100 MPH.

It is difficult to predict what to expect in the southeastern United but isolated rain of up to 15 inches could be possible with tropical storm force winds and life-threatening surf and rip currents.

What is certain from Hurricane Dorian is is that there will be a prolonged period of life-threatening storm surge, devastating hurricane-force winds, and heavy rains capable of producing life-threatening flash floods on the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama through Monday while the hurricane warning remains in effect for these areas.

A tropical storm warning is now in effect for a portion of the Florida east coast. Since Dorian is forecast to slow down and turn northward as it approaches the coast, life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are still possible along portions of the Florida east coast by the middle part of this week. Residents should have their hurricane plan in place, know if they are in a hurricane evacuation zone, and listen to advice given by local emergency officials.

There is an increasing risk of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week. Residents in these areas should continue to monitor the progress of Dorian.

Heavy rains, capable of producing life-threatening flash floods are possible over coastal sections of the southeast and lower mid-Atlantic regions of the United States through late this week.

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