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Hurricane Dorian struck the northern Bahamas on Sunday as a catastrophic Category 5 storm, its 185 mph winds ripping off roofs and tearing down power lines as hundreds hunkered in schools, churches and other shelters.
The second-strongest Atlantic hurricane since 1950, Dorian hit land in Elbow Cay in the Abaco Islands after authorities made last-minute pleas for those in low-lying areas to evacuate. But officials recognized there were not many structures on higher ground on the largely flat archipelago southeast of Florida.
Millions - Florida - Carolinas - Eye - Dorian
Millions from Florida to the Carolinas kept a wary eye on the slow-moving Dorian amid indications it would veer sharply northeastward after passing the Bahamas and track up the U.S. Southeast seaboard. But authorities warned that even if its core did not make U.S. landfall and stayed offshore, the potent storm would likely hammer U.S. coastal areas with powerful winds and heavy surf.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Dorian's maximum sustained winds at landfall were 185 mph (295 kph), up from 175 mph (281 kph). It is moving west at 7 mph (11 kph). "Catastrophic conditions" are occurring in The Abaco Islands and expected across Grand Bahama later in the day, the center said.
Dorian - Hurricane - Allen - Mph - Winds
Dorian was second only to Hurricane Allen in 1980, with its 190 mph winds.
"It's going to be really, really bad for the Bahamas," Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said.
Stretches - Bahamas - Archipelago - Hotels - Residents
In the northern stretches of the Bahamas archipelago, hotels closed, residents boarded up homes and officials hired boats to move people from low-lying areas to bigger islands as Dorian approached.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis warned that any "who do not evacuate are placing themselves in extreme danger and can expect a catastrophic consequence."
Kwasi - Thompson - Minister - State - Grand
Kwasi Thompson, minister of state for Grand Bahama island, urged residents to "please, please heed the warning. We have no more time available."
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