Hurricane Dorian picks up speed as it moves away from Bahamas, toward U.S.

Sept. 3 — Hurricane Dorian is moving again — toward the U.S. coast Tuesday as a downgraded Category 2 hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center said in its 2 p.m. Tuesday update the center of Dorian was 105 miles east of Fort Pierce, Fla., and 95 miles northeast of West Palm Beach, Fla. It was moving northwest at 5 mph and had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, barely below Category 3 strength.

The movement follows almost none by the storm for the majority of Monday, when it was largely stationary over the Bahamas.

A hurricane warning has been issued for the coast of South Carolina, from north of Edisto Beach to the South Santee River — and a hurricane watch is in effect from north of South Santee Riverto Duck, N.C., including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

The NHC said in the advisory Dorian’s core is finally moving away from Grand Bahama, and potentially life-threatening storm surge will continue for the island through Tuesday evening.

Coastal regions from Florida to Virginia on Tuesday afternoon remained on the lookout for Hurricane Dorian. With hurricane and storm surge watches and warnings lining the coast, officials are preparing residents for the worst. The first tropical storm force wind gust was been recorded along the Treasure Coast of Florida on Tuesday afternoon at a station by the Sebastian Inlet.

Forecasters warn that even though the wind speeds are weakening, the storm still poses extreme danger to the southern coast of the United States.

The crawling, slow progress of the storm allowed Dorian to spend more than 24 hours dumping rain and whipping intense winds across the island nation. Dozens of people are still missing and the total death toll is expected to be catastrophic.

In the southeastern U.S., evacuations for more than two million people began on Monday afternoon. Governors from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia all signed state of emergencies and called for mandatory evacuations.

Both the storm surge warning and the storm surge watch were extended farther north, with the warning now reaching South Santee River in South Carolina and the watch now reaching Cape Lookout in North Carolina.

In Florida, the storm surge watch and warning have been canceled in Jupiter Inlet and Lantana. The hurricane watch from Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet was also canceled.

In North Carolina, a hurricane warning was issued for the coast of South Carolina from north of Edisto Beach to the South Santee River while a hurricane watch was issued from north of South Santee River to Duck.

Despite the mandatory evacuations, some residents in New Smyrna, Florida, have decided to wait out the storm.

About one hour north up the Florida coast, residents in America’s oldest city, St. Augustine, braced for the impacts. As one resident put it, a sense of the inevitable has set in there, even if landfall never happens.

“We’re just in one of those towns that when a hurricane comes close to us with a six- or eight-foot surge, yes, everything’s going to flood,” Steven Drake said on Monday. “In a storm like this, the water comes up, and there’s nowhere for it to go.”

Even though the eye wall of the storm is expected to remain offshore, powerful winds and tropical storm conditions along the Florida and Georgia coasts are expected during the first half of the week. Dorian is forecast to slowly weaken along much of its northeastward route from Georgia to North Carolina waters. The hurricane is likely to be a Category 3 off the northeastern Florida coast on Tuesday night and a Category 1 near North Carolina during Friday morning.

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