WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Hurricane Dorian became a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles (260 km) per hour as it is expected to batter the northern Bahamas, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early Sunday.
The NHC said in its latest update that Dorian has intensified to a "catastrophic" Category 5 hurricane, the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with wind speeds of 157 miles (253 km) per hour or higher.
The latest forecast is for Dorian to hit Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas Sunday through Monday with devastating winds, life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall.
"Some fluctuations in intensity are likely, but Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days," the NHC said.
According to the NHC, the "extremely dangerous" Hurricane Dorian, now moving westward near 8 miles (13 km) per hour, "should move closer to the Florida east coast late Monday through Tuesday night."
Projecting Dorian's exact path is difficult, with different models pointing to varying paths. Forecasters now expects Dorian to make landfall in the Carolinas in the middle of next week.
"There is an increasing risk of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coast of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week," the NHC said in an advisory note. "Residents in these areas should continue to monitor the progress of Dorian."
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a state of emergency Friday that waives certain transportation restrictions to help farmers and support relief efforts in advance of the storm.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also declared a state of emergency, asking residents to prepare supplies enough to sustain seven days.
In case of a Category 5 hurricane, a high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse, according to the explanation of the wind scale categorization. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.
Furthermore, power outages will last from weeks to possibly months, and most of the affected area will be uninhabitable for that duration or longer.