LIVE TRACK: Hurricane Dorian strengthens to Category 5 hurricane before making landfall

Weather

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Hurricane Dorian intensified into a Category 5 major hurricane Sunday afternoon, reaching wind speeds of 185 mph with gusts over 220 mph.

After inflicting minor damage on the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Thursday, it continued to strengthen in its charge toward the Bahamas, before making landfall at Elbow Cay, Abacos Island, in the northern Bahamas, followed by a second landfall.

VIDEOS: Category 5 Dorian batters the Bahamas

Strong winds, storm surge, heavy rain and flooding continue to be major concerns for impacted areas as the storm churns slowly west at 5 mph.

The National Hurricane Center is calling the catastrophic potential a “life threatening situation, and that residents should take immediate shelter. People are being told not to venture into the eye if it passes over your location.

RELATED: Dorian makes landfall in Bahamas; South Carolina issues mandatory evacuations of coast

Weak wind shear and warm water will continue to be conducive to maintaining and growing storm strength, as Dorian swirls through the northern Bahamas and approaches Florida’s Atlantic coast Tuesday.

The Bermuda High will help steer Dorian on a westerly course over the holiday weekend. The storm’s forward speed slowed to less than 10 mph, and the powerful hurricane will linger over the northwestern Bahamas for a couple of days.

The dangerous storm deepened even more Sunday morning, as the pressure lowered to 911 mb and winds increased to 185 mph, with little in the way of land to cause weakening.

Latest model guidance showed a definitive turn to the north early in the week as the storm approaches the Florida coast, with the greater threat of landfall shifting to the Carolinas. All interests from Florida to North Carolina and now even Virginia will be paying close attention to the latest developments.

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