Death and destruction: A timeline of Hurricane Dorian


Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas and battered several southern states this week, sparking panic along the nation’s southeast coast and forcing rescuers in the Caribbean to scramble to reach survivors.

While debate over President Trump’s claim that Alabama was in the storm’s path dominated media coverage this week, Dorian tracked up the Atlantic coast to Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, causing widespread damage and power outages.

{mosads}Now a Category 1 storm, Dorian continues to wreak havoc on the Carolinas as it inches its way farther up the southeast.

Here’s a timeline of the storm’s path:

Aug. 24: Dorian forms

The National Hurricane Center issued its first advisory about Dorian, then called a Tropical Depression, on Aug. 24. The depression formed off the Lesser Antilles, a group of Caribbean islands, and had maximum sustained winds of about 35 miles per hour.

Hours later, it strengthened into a tropic storm – the fourth tropical storm of the season in the Atlantic.

Aug. 28: Dorian becomes a hurricane, hits the Virgin Islands

The tropical storm became a hurricane near the U.S. Virgin island of St. Thomas on Aug. 28. The National Hurricane Center noted that there had been multiple observations of hurricane-force winds in St. Thomas.

Hurricane Dorian struck the island as a Category 1 storm. It caused blackouts on St. Thomas and St. John, and some outages in St. Croix, a government spokesman told The Associated Press.

Trump approved an emergency declaration for the Virgin Islands.

Aug. 28: Trump swipes at Puerto Rico mayor

The growing storm system narrowly avoided Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“Thank God we were not affected,” Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez said.

Trump stirred controversy that day when, as the hurricane appeared poised to hit Puerto Rico, he criticized the mayor of San Juan.

In a tweet, he said officials were tracking the storm and that it was heading for the island “as usual.” He added that emergency services were ready.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) also declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm, as it looked like Dorian was poised to hit Florida. 

Aug. 30: Dorian strengthens to Category 4 storm

The National Hurricane center upgraded the storm as it continued to make its way to Florida, calling it “extremely dangerous” with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph.

Aug. 31: Dorian shifts path toward the Carolinas

Dorian shifted its path, sparing Florida from the brunt of the storm but setting its sight on Georgia and the Carolinas.

Sept. 1: Dorian hits the Bahamas

The weather storm system struck the Bahamas on Sept. 1. The storm, which made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, was the strongest in more than 80 years, according to the National Hurricane Center.

It had sustained winds of up to 185 mph. At least 43 people in the Bahamas were killed, according to figures reported later.

Sept. 1: Trump claims Alabama could be hit ‘harder than anticipated’

Trump tweeted that Alabama was a potential target of the hurricane. “In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” he wrote that morning. 

Shortly thereafter, the National Weather Service’s office in Birmingham, Ala., tweeted that the state would “NOT” be impacted, apparently in response to Trump’s tweet.

“Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east,” the weather organization wrote.

Trump doubled down on the Alabama claim later that day after the National Weather Service tweeted.

While discussing the hurricane, which became a Category 5 that day, Trump said at a press briefing that he wasn’t sure he had “ever even heard of the Category 5” hurricane

“We don’t even know what’s coming at us. All we know is it’s possibly the biggest,” he said. “I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed.”

North Carolina also declared a state of emergency on Sept. 1.

Sept. 3: US sends aid to the Bahamas

Trump and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that the U.S. would send aid to help the Bahamas. The USAID noted that it sent a disaster response team that would work with local authorities, humanitarian organizations and others to help those impacted by the storm. 

The president tweeted that the U.S. was “sending crews” to help the Bahamas, over which the storm had stagnated for several days.

Sept. 4: Trump holds up map marked to show Alabama in storm’s path

The president displayed a map of Dorian’s projected path that appeared to show the storm’s path extended with black marker to include Alabama.

That alteration led to heightened scrutiny of the president’s remarks days earlier when he insisted that the state was a target of the storm.

He later told reporters he did not know anything about the edited map, but insisted that original forecasts projected that Alabama would be impacted. 

Sept. 6: Dorian hits North Carolina

Dorian makes landfall at North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The Category 1 system had sustained winds near 90 miles per hour.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said during a briefing that hundreds of people were trapped on Ocracoke Island. The National Weather Service posted videos of severe flooding in impacted areas due to storm surge.

Sept. 6: NOAA disavows Weather Service tweet that contradicted Trump

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a statement saying it had given information to Trump and the public that demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds could affect Alabama.

The agency also said that the Sept. 1 tweet from the National Weather Service office in Birmingham “spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Trump, in a series of tweets, lashed out at the media coverage he had been receiving the previous days regarding his Alabama remark. 

“The Fake News Media was fixated on the fact that I properly said, at the beginnings of Hurricane Dorian, that in addition to Florida & other states, Alabama may also be grazed or hit,” he wrote. “Four days of corrupt reporting, still without an apology.”

The Washington Post reported, citing a White House official, that Trump was the one who edited a map of Dorian’s projected path to include Alabama. Both his campaign and the campaign of primary challenger Joe Walsh fundraised off the altered map incident

Tags Atlantic hurricane season Atlantic hurricanes Donald Trump Hurricane Dorian Hurricane Maria Joe Walsh Ron DeSantis Tropical cyclones

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