UPDATE: Hurricane Dorian weakened to a Category 3 storm over the Bahamas early Tuesday, after virtually stalling over the island nation where it caused devastation and was blamed for at least five deaths.

The National Hurricane Center said in a 5 a.m. update that Dorian had maximum sustained winds near 120 mph and was stationary just north of Grand Bahama Island.

Although it had been downgraded, Dorian was expected to remain a perilously powerful hurricane for the next couple of days, with "devastating" winds and a "life-threatening" storm surge, the center said.

The storm was forecast to travel "dangerously close" to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening, the center said. It would then move "very near" the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over the North Carolina coast late Thursday, the center added.

In the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at a Monday news conference that parts of the northern Bahamas were in the midst of a "historic tragedy" and that five people had been confirmed dead and at least 21 people had been injured and taken to hospitals.

The Latest on Dorian

  • The storm had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and was stationary just north of Grand Bahama Island, in a "stationary" position, the hurricane center said at 5 a.m. Tuesday. Isolated rainfall of over 30 inches in northwestern Bahamas could cause "life-threatening flash floods."
  • At least five people have died in the Abaco Islands, Bahamian officials say. A woman told Eyewitness News Bahamas that her 8-year-old grandson was killed in a possible drowning.
  • Officials say Dorian is set to come "dangerously close" to Florida's east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening, very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over North Carolina's coast late Thursday.
  • Both the Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach international airports in Florida shut down their operations Monday, and Orlando's airport planned to cease all flights at 2 a.m. ET Tuesday. Amtrak also canceled some of its East Coast service.
  • More than 70 nursing homes and assisted living facilities have evacuated along Florida's east coast. Many of the state's toll roads are suspended, and several ports have closed. In addition, more than 85 shelters are open statewide.
  • Six counties east of Interstate 95 in Georgia were ordered to evacuate, Gov. Brian Kemp says.

Minnis said that images and videos seen by officials are heartbreaking, with many homes and businesses and other buildings completely or partially destroyed.

"Dorian is still battering Grand Bahama Island and will continue for many more hours,” Minnis tweeted late Monday. "We know that there are a number of people in serious distress. We pray for their safety and will provide relief and assistance as soon as possible."

The National Hurricane Center warned that a tornado or two was possible near the east coast of Florida through Tuesday night. The risk will then shift to coastal Georgia and the coastal Carolinas on Wednesday into Thursday.

Storm surge warnings were in effect for parts of Florida and South Carolina and hurricane warnings issued for the northwestern Bahamas and parts of Florida. Storm surge and hurricane watches were also issued for other parts of Florida and South Carolina, while tropical storm warnings and watches were in effect for parts of Florida and Georgia.

Millions of people along the southeastern coast of the United States are bracing for Dorian's effects in the coming days as meteorologists warn the storm's actual trajectory is uncertain. Dorian is expected to move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening, and very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over North Carolina's coast late Thursday.

President Donald Trump has approved emergency declarations for FloridaSouth Carolina, and Georgia. Virginia Gov. The governors of North Carolina and Virginia have also declared states of emergency.

Southport, North Carolina, Mayor J.V. Dove said that forecasts show the storm traveling up the coast and not making landfall.

"Still, we are expecting and do expect heavy rainfall, perhaps 10 inches or more, plus tropical-storm-force winds, and we’re preparing for that,” Dove said on MSNBC early Tuesday. A state of emergency would be in effect at 7 a.m.

"One thing I’ve learned about hurricanes is that a lot of people are very afraid of the winds, but most of our trouble comes from the flooding, the heavy rains that are caused by the hurricanes themselves,” the mayor said.

The National Weather Service in Miami tweeted early Tuesday that coastal flooding had been reported in the city, and urged people to not drive through flooded roadways. The weather service in Jacksonville said fast-moving rain bands would produce brief but torrential downpours and up to 30-mph wind gusts.

On Sunday, the governors of South Carolina and Georgia ordered at least 1 million people to evacuate their coasts beginning Monday.

Areas in the United States with populations of more than 3.5 million were under hurricane warnings, and another 9 million were under tropical storm warnings early Tuesday, according to the weather service.


PREVIOUS: Hurricane Dorian lurched across the northern Bahamas on Monday morning, battering the archipelago as one of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded, while leaving millions of people along the southeastern coast of the United States bracing for its effects over the next few days.

Dorian weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds but remained "extremely dangerous," flooding low-lying islands of the Bahamas for a second day with storm surges of up to 23 feet above normal, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday. Parts of Grand Bahama Island were "lashed incessantly" by the destructive hurricane-force winds, the center added.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday morning that he was continuing to monitor the storm as it stalled more than 100 miles east of West Palm Beach, and that residents from Palm Beach County up toward Jacksonville along the state's east coast were on warning to evacuate.


The Latest on Dorian:

  • The storm had sustained winds of 155 mph and was moving 30 miles northeast of Grand Bahama Island at just 1 mph, the hurricane center reported at 11 a.m. ET. Isolated rainfall was expected at 30 inches in some parts of the northwestern Bahamas.
  • Both the Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach international airports in Florida have shut down their operations on Monday ahead of the storm. In addition, more than 200 flights were canceled to and from Orlando's airport. Amtrak also canceled some of its East Coast service.
  • Officials say Dorian is set to come "dangerously close" to Florida's east coast on Monday night and through Wednesday evening, although exactly how close is unclear.
  • More than 70 nursing homes and assisted living facilities have already evacuated along Florida's east coast, Gov. DeSantis says. Many of the state's toll roads were suspended and several ports have also been closed.

Dorian made landfall on Great Abaco Island, a neighboring island to Grand Bahama, on Sunday afternoon as a Category 5 storm. The hurricane center said its maximum sustained winds were 185 mph — an Atlantic hurricane record matched only by the Labor Day 1935 storm that struck the Florida Keys.

Although top sustained wind speeds have decreased to 165 mph and the storm's eye was hardly moving over the Grand Bahama Island on Monday, the National Hurricane Center still called it "a life-threatening situation."

"Residents on Grand Bahama Island should not leave their shelter when the eye passes over," it warned.

The center said wind gusts of up to 200 mph and storm surge up to 23 feet above normal tide levels will continue over Grand Bahama Island during most of the day on Monday, "causing extreme destruction on the island."
There was little information coming from the affected islands.

Most people went to shelters as the storm approached, with hotels shutting down and residents boarding up their homes.

Videos and photos shot by residents of Great Abaco Island and obtained by NBC News showed relentless gusts of wind toppling trees, flipped cars, damaged phone towers and homes almost completely submerged in water.

A video shot in Abaco showed dozens of people waiting out the storm, huddled together in the only apartment left relatively intact, with a roof that’s caving and walls leaking.

"This is the only house left standing in the neighborhood and everyone is here," a woman in the video said as the storm raged outside. "This is the only safe place we can be right now."

Another video posted by an unnamed Bahamian showed a family sheltering in a bathroom as a woman prayed for their safety. And in a separate video, an observer called a scene of snapped trees, twisted metal and crumpled cars "complete devastation."

"This is probably the saddest and worst day for me to address the Bahamian people," said Prime Minister of The Bahamas Hubert Minnis in a tweet after briefing the nation about the storm Sunday night. "We are facing a hurricane that we have never seen in The Bahamas. Please pray for us."

The Nassau Guardian quoted Minnis calling Dorian a "monster storm" Sunday and saying rescue teams won't get to hurricane victims on Great Abaco Island until Wednesday.

Bahamas Press reported Monday that the Grand Bahama International Airport was under 5 feet of water. NBC News was not able to independently verify that information.

Dionisio D'Aguilar, Bahamas minister of tourism and aviation, told "Today" on Monday that the biggest risk right now was loss of life.

"There is no doubt about it: we are frightened to death at the potential consequences of such a severe storm," he said.

The Bahamas ministry of tourism said Sunday that it strongly advised visitors on the islands in the path of the storm to leave before it hit.

It said 80 tourists remained on the affected islands as of Saturday evening.

President Donald Trump voiced his support for the Bahamians tweeting Sunday: "Pray for the people in the Bahamas. Being hit like never before, Category 5."

The National Hurricane Center said Monday that Dorian will make a gradual turn toward the northwest and north following its slow westward motion during the next day or so.

The center said life-threatening storm surges and dangerous hurricane-force winds were expected along portions of the Florida east coast through mid-week, and storm surge and hurricane warnings were in effect.

"Only a slight deviation to the left of the official forecast would bring the core of Dorian near or over the Florida east coast," the hurricane center warned. It added that there was also an increasing likelihood of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas later this week.

NBC News meteorologist Don Tsouhnikas said the warnings erred on the side of caution as it would take time to evacuate those areas if necessary.

"If this storm track pans out, the center [of the hurricane] will be 40 to 80 miles off the east coast of Florida as it begins to change its path," Tsouhnikas said. "That would spare Florida and avoid potentially severe damage."

But he said a wobble to the left toward Florida's coast would bring a more significant impact, stronger winds and storm surge.

On Sunday, the governors of South Carolina and Georgia ordered at least 1 million people to evacuate their coasts beginning Monday.

Authorities in Florida ordered mandatory evacuations in some vulnerable coastal areas. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents Sunday to make sure they are ready for possible impacts expected by the middle of the week.