The Bahamas is braced for devastating Category 4 hurricane conditions as Dorian barrels its way towards the low-lying chain of islands Sunday.
Tropical storm winds are expected to begin within the next several hours in the country’s northwest, according 2am advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The tourist enclaves of Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama will see “a life-threatening” storm surge that will raise water levels up to 20 feet above normal tide levels.
Large and destructive waves are forecasted to accompany the surge as well as heavy rainfall.
Dorian’s core is expected to be near or over portions of northwestern Bahamas later on Sunday, and will move closer to Florida’s east coast “late Monday through Tuesday,” NHC wrote.
The Bahamas consists of more than 700 islands — some only a few feet above sea level.
Its Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Saturday called for residents in the northern islands to evacuate immediately.
“To those of you in the Cays and Grand Bahamas, I beg you, please leave,” Minnis said. “(The storm) is expected to cause devastating effects to our island.”
“If you wait until tonight, it will be too late,” he added. “Time is not on our side.”
About 73,000 residents and 21,000 homes could be impacted by the hurricane, he said
“Homes, houses, structures can be replaced,” Minnis said. “Lives cannot.”