Hurricane Dorian was the most intense tropical cyclone on record to strike the Bahamas, and is regarded as the worst natural disaster in the country's history. It was also one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic Ocean in terms of 1-minute sustained winds, with these winds peaking at 185 mph.
Great Abaco Island, Bahamas
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It was the fourth named storm, second hurricane, and the first major hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. 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 its ravages 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.
Dorian developed from a tropical wave on August 24 over the Central Atlantic. The storm moved through the Lesser Antilles and became a hurricane north of the Greater Antilles on August 28. Dorian proceeded to undergo rapid intensification over the following days to reach its peak as a Category 5 hurricane with one-minute sustained winds of 185 mph (295 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 910 millibars (26.87 inHg) by September 1. It made landfall in the Bahamas in Elbow Cay, just east of Abaco Island, and again on Grand Bahama several hours later, where it remained nearly stationary for the next day or so. After weakening considerably, Dorian began moving northwestward on September 3, parallel to the east coast of Florida. Dwindling in strength, the hurricane turned to the northeast the next day and made landfall on Cape Hatteras at Category 1 intensity on September 6. It transitioned into an extratropical cyclone before striking first Nova Scotia and then Newfoundland with hurricane-force winds on September 8. It finally dissipated near Greenland on September 10.
From August 26 to August 28, the storm affected several parts of the northernmost Lesser Antilles. Damaging winds primarily affected the Virgin Islands where gusts reached 111 mph (179 km/h). Extensive precautionary measures were taken to mitigate damage, especially in Puerto Rico, where one person died. Elsewhere in the Lesser Antilles, impacts from the storm were relatively minor. 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.
Damage in the Bahamas was catastrophic due to the prolonged and intense storm conditions, including heavy rainfall, high winds and storm surge, with thousands of homes destroyed and at least 61 deaths recorded. The true death toll is unknown, but news sources in the Bahamas suggested that it will likely be significantly higher. As of October 4, 2019, more than 400 people still remain missing. Dorian is by far the costliest disaster in Bahamian history, estimated to have left behind an exceptional $7 billion in property damage.