Dorian really went crazy today, and despite already being a category five hurricane this morning, it rapidly intensified once again and became an even stronger category five hurricane. Dorian made landfall on Abaco Island in the northern Bahamas earlier this evening, with peak sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, and is currently making its second landfall over Grand Bahama Island as a 180 mile per hour storm.
Dorian's 185 mph landfall tied it with the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane for the title of the highest winds of any Atlantic hurricane at landfall. Despite having equal wind speeds, the 1935 hurricane had a pressure of just 892 millibars at landfall, and Dorian's pressure was 910 millibars. Since measuring air pressure is much easier and more accurate than measuring wind speeds, its very possible that many of the older storms like the 1935 Labor Day hurricane could have had much higher winds. Some meteorologists even speculate that the 1935 hurricane could have had winds over 200 mph.
Although wind is ultimately derived from pressure, its unclear whether the true impacts of a storm is most affected by air pressure or wind speeds. An interesting example would be Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall as a category 3 hurricane with an unusually low barometric pressure of 920 millibars, which could've contributed to Katrina's devastation.
I know that when I'm following any kind of cyclone, I'm always more impressed with air pressure than windspeed. Barometric air pressure is so much more reliable, as wind speeds for tropical cyclones are typically a very educated guess.
Major Hurricane Dorian (September 1st 2019)
Dorian is doing catastrophic damage to the northern Bahamas and the footage coming out of Abaco Island is reminiscent of Barbuda when Irma struck in 2017. The damage to Grand Bahama Island could be even worse as Dorian is beginning to stall over the island. Over 20 inches of rain is expected to fall on the island as Dorian stalls over the next 12-24 hours. This would typically cause a disastrous amount of flooding, but since virtually the entire island is under 30 feet of elevation, almost everywhere will be covered in storm surge and any flooding caused by rainfall will be unnoticeable.
WPC 120 hour Rainfall Forecast for Hurricane Dorian (September 1st 2019)
Dorian's approach to Florida continues to be an incredibly close call. Hurricane warnings have been posted which is great, because a lot of Floridians really believed they were in the clear when the weather models trended out to sea two days ago. If there is a Florida landfall, which there very well could be, there is still another 36 hours, so there is some time for final evacuations if need be. By far the most at risk area in Florida looks to be the Cape Canaveral Area of Florida. This is where Dorian should make its closest approach to the Sunshine State.
National Hurricane Center Cone of Uncertainty for Dorian (September 1st 2019)
Wednesday and Thursday Dorian will impact the rest of the southeast and then the northeast and Canadian Maritimes could be affected Friday and into the weekend. Considering how unclear a Florida landfall is at this point, discussion of impacts in other states is pure speculation.