The U.S. National Hurricane Center says a hurricane warning has been issued for a stretch of Florida’s east coast as powerful Hurricane Dorian approaches.

The Miami-based center says the hurricane warning covers an area from Jupiter Inlet to the Volusia/Brevard County line in Florida. It says a hurricane watch has also been used from Voluisa/Brevard Countyline to the Flagler-Volusia county line.

The first hurricane warning and watch in Florida comes as Hurricane Dorian is battering parts of the Bahamas with top sustained winds of 185 mph (295 kph).

At 5 p.m. EDT Sunday, Dorian’s core was located about 175 miles (280 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida. It’s moving to the west at 5 mph (7 kph).

Mandatory evacuation orders in Florida for low-lying and flood-prone areas and mobile homes are taking effect starting either Sunday or Monday from Palm Beach County north to at least the Daytona Beach area, and some counties to the north issued voluntary evacuation notices.

Weekend traffic was light in Florida despite those orders, unlike during the chaotic run-up to Hurricane Irma in 2017 when unusually broad Irma menaced the entire state. Current forecasts show only Florida’s east coast is affected, meaning residents may choose to flee westward.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a Sunday evening briefing that the light traffic might also be in part due to many residents being seasonal and living elsewhere or already having departed on Labor Day trips. He says remaining residents need to closely monitor forecasts and announcements.

“Please prepare, because this thing is a big boy,” DeSantis said.

Video authorities say is being circulated by residents of Abaco in the Bahamas shows homes missing parts of their roofs, utility lines down and cars overturned by Hurricane Dorian. One of the videos shows floodwaters rushing through the streets of an unidentified town.

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis is lamenting the devastation from Dorian, a Category 5 monster that began battering northwest portions of the archipelago on Sunday. He says that on parts of the island of Abaco, “you cannot tell the difference as to the beginning of the street versus where the ocean begins.”

According to the Nassau Guardian, Minnis is calling it “probably the most sad and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people.”

(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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