Hurricane Dorian Becomes Second Strongest Storm Ever Ahead of U.S. Landfall

Hurricane Dorian is breaking a number of records as it batters the Bahamas and encroaches on the continental United States. After making landfall as a Category 5 storm at Great Abaco Island on Sunday, reportedly killing a young boy, Dorian has officially become the second strongest storm ever observed in the Atlantic Ocean in recorded history, with records that date back to the 1850s.

According to the Washington Post, with sustained winds of 185 mph, Dorian is second only to Hurricane Allen, a Cape Verde hurricane that struck the Caribbean, eastern and northern Mexico, and southern Texas in August of 1980 with sustained winds of 190 mph. It ties with Hurricane Wilma (2005), Hurricane Gilbert (1988) and the unnamed Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

Dorian has also tied with the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 for the strongest winds at landfall on record in the Atlantic Ocean, producing gusts up to 220 mph that ravaged structures and homes.

Dorian has also become the strongest storm to ever hit the Bahamas. Before Dorian, that record had been held by the 1932 Bahamas hurricane, a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 160 mph.

Initially popping up on radars as a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Dorian to a Category 5 hurricane on Sept. 1, describing it as a “catastrophic” and “life threatening” storm that would bring “devastating winds” and “very heavy rainfall." At the time, the projected maximum sustained wind speed was 160 mph, a speed that Dorian quickly surpassed when it made landfall.

Moving slowly and all but stalling over the Bahamas, Dorian’s effects have already been devastating. Along with reports of widespread flooding brought on by heavy rains and dangerous storm surges, a 7 or 8-year-old boy named Lachino Mcintosh has become the first death, according to The Bahamas Press. Mcintosh reportedly drowned as he and his family were attempting to flee. His sister is said to be among the dozens reported missing.

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It is expected that the death toll will rise once the storm passes, with crews from The Bahamas Press reporting that “bodies are floating around,” adding that there is fear the true death toll will remain a mystery as “when the water subsides some bodies will be washed out to sea.”

Currently, Dorian is projected to make a northward turn and skirt along the eastern coast as a catastrophic hurricane. Although direct landfall may not occur, residents along the eastern coast are being told to prepare for the worst, and mandatory evacuations are already in effect.