Major Hurricane Dorian was the fifth depression, fourth named storm, second hurricane, and the first major hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. Dorian was also one of the strongest land-falling Atlantic hurricanes with wind speeds up to 185 mph and gusts over 220 mph making it a high level Category 5 hurricane. Dorian also became the slowest moving hurricane in the Atlantic by moving 1 mph over the Bahamas, moving backwards for a few miles and then completely stopping for a period of time before moving northward. Dorian is also the costliest storm to ever hit the Bahamas as it decimated the whole area for 48 hours while being virtually “parked” over the island nation.
Like most hurricanes that hit the US or the Caribbean, Major Hurricane Dorian originated as a westward moving weather system that started off the coast of Africa and crossed the Atlantic Ocean. On 8-19-2019, The National Hurricane Center identified a tropical wave, an elongated trough of low air pressure, within a monsoon trough over Guinea and Senegal in western Africa. As Dorian moved west, it started to form into a tropical depression where it was identified as tropical depression 5. When Dorian was nearing the Caribbean, it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Dorian when it reached the Caribbean and then finally to Hurricane Dorian before passing by Puerto Rico.
On 8-28-2019, Tropical Storm Erin became an extra topic of concern for hurricane preparers. Tropical Storm Erin started out over the Bahamas as a disturbance, moved over Florida where it weakened and then back over the Atlantic where it became a Tropical Storm. The presence of both Tropical Storm Erin and Hurricane Dorian had created a lot of anxiety in Florida and other eastern states. People began to plan their exit or wondered when to put up their shutters. Since Dorian moved very slowly, people in Florida had several days to plan and prepare for the storm. The cone of uncertainty had many people wondering who was going to get the full force of the storm and where the eye-wall was headed.
Hurricane Dorian was upgraded to a major hurricane as it was expected to build up to a category 4 hurricane before hitting somewhere in Florida. The cone of uncertainty now included all of Florida. At this point, most of Florida started to put up their shutters and/or planned to get out of town. Although it was hot and humid, people were cleaning up their yards, packing their garages with loose items and locking down their properties. Dorian was going to be a big storm and Floridians like to be prepared.
On 8-31-2019, Hurricane Dorian was already a major hurricane was now expected to build up to a category 5 hurricane before hitting the Bahamas. The cone of uncertainty changed. It contained most of Florida’s east coast, but included that northern turn. Dorian was now building into a monster storm. The people of the Bahamas were about to be hit with something they had never experienced before; a Category 5 hurricane that would linger for 48 hours and destroy the country.
The very next day, on 9-1-2019, Major Hurricane Dorian became a category 5 hurricane while hitting the Bahamas. The news stations were locked on Dorian 24/7. People from all over the United States were contacting friends, family and loved ones in Florida; offering prayers, help, advice or shelter from the storm. Communities were coming together to help one another to get ready for the potential landfall in Florida. The storm was under 150 miles away and could have made landfall the same day had it carried on, but it slowed down and stopped over Grand Bahama Island.
Major Hurricane Dorian parked itself over the Bahamas and sat there for 48 hours while creating a deadly storm surge that trapped people in their attics and destroyed most of the shorter buildings, piling debris all over the place or washing it out to sea. The death toll in the Bahamas is at 46 as of 9-9-2019, but is expected to rise far above that number as many people are presumed missing. Most of them have become homeless as a result of the storm. Meanwhile, back in Florida, people are still inside their homes wondering if and when Dorian is going to bring Hurricane conditions to them. Short bursts of wind and rain came and went as the outer feeder bands of Dorian swept by.
Since the ridge of high pressure steering Dorian westward collapsed on September 2, Dorian stalled just north of Grand Bahama Island for about a day. Shortly after, a combination of cold water upwelling and an eye-wall replacement cycle weakened Dorian to a Category 2 hurricane by the next day. It then started to move northward and away from the Bahamas.
Dorian slowly picked up speed as it stayed offshore and moved along the coast of Florida. The wind, rain and storm surge in Florida was nowhere near what it could have been had Dorian not stopped for 2 days and weakened. The National Hurricane Center then updated the projected track of Dorian to reflect a path that was eventually out to sea.
Dorian completed another eye-wall replacement cycle while moving over warmer waters near Florida’s east coast and regained Category 3 intensity by midnight on September 5. As Dorian passed by the area of Jacksonville; Hurricane watches were in place for the coastal areas of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Dorian quickly lost strength after moving over Canada, but still dropped a lot of rain before completely dying out. This storm created a lot of anxiety, destruction and property damage along its path. The loss that occurred in the US is relatively minor compared to the losses that occurred in the Bahamas. Dorian will go down in history as a very unique yet destructive storm. Recovery has already begun, but it will take a long time before the people of the Bahamas fully recover. If you are able to assist in the recovery efforts, many people will be grateful for your efforts at any level. Thank you for reading this report.