Weather forecasters say predictions that powerful Hurricane Dorian will slow to a crawl over the Bahamas complicates their outlook for the United States.
The National Hurricane Center says Dorian could nearly stall over Great Abaco Island or Grand Bahama Island for more than 24 hours starting late Sunday.
Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham says that would be catastrophic for the island chain. Dorian was upgraded to the most powerful designation of Category 5, with maximum sustained winds increasing to 160 mph (260 kph). Forecasters say ocean levels could rise up to 20 feet (6 meters) in parts of the northern Bahamas with the storm surge topped with huge waves.
Tourist hotels closed, residents boarded up homes and officials hired boats to move people from low-lying areas to bigger islands as the powerful Category 4 hurricane approached. Many are hunkered down in schools, churches and other shelters awaiting the storm's dreaded arrival later Sunday.
A tropical storm warning was issued between Deerfield Beach up to Sebastian Inlet on southern Florida's east coast, while a tropical storm watch was issued between Deerfield Beach down to Golden Beach.
The National Hurricane Center's rainfall estimates for the northwestern Bahamas were upped to 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 centimeters), with isolated incidents of 30 inches (76 centimeters), while estimates for the coastal Carolinas were between 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) of rain, with isolated cases of 15 inches (38 centimeters).