Hurricane Dorian approaches the coast of Florida
Hurricane Dorian approaches the coast of Florida Reuters

Hurricane Dorian has strengthened to category five, the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Sunday.

Dorian's maximum sustained winds increased up to 160mph as it moves west at 8mph on Sunday morning toward the northern Bahamas. The storm is capable of causing catastrophic destruction, the NHC reported.

Dorian's center is 35 miles east of Great Abaco Island and 225 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The NHC reported that Dorian will reach the Abaxos Islands on Sunday morning and will hit Grand Bahama Island later in the day. Locals are boarding up their homes and moving to shelters to wait out the storm.

Tropical-storm-force winds began to strike the Bahamas early Sunday morning with sustained winds of over 39 miles per hour.

As much as 25 inches of rain are expected in parts of the Bahamas. Water levels could rise as high as 15 feet above normal.

Reports from the Bahamas described tourists scrambling to leave before the closure of the international airport, the BBC reported.

States of emergency have been declared in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina. Residents have been urged to stock enough food, water and medicine to last at least a week.

US President Donald Trump received a briefing on Hurricane Dorian over the weekend from Acting Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Pete Gaynor, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction Dr. Neil Jacobs, and Deputy Assistant to the President and Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Pete Brown.