Bahamas issues tropical storm warning as disturbance nears area hit by Hurricane Dorian

By Peter Martinez

/ CBS News

New storm looms over the Bahamas

The government of the Bahamas has issued a tropical storm warning for northwestern Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). That's the same region that was decimated earlier this month when Hurricane Dorian swept through the region as a monster Category 5 storm, killing at least 50 people.

The Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence can expect tropical storm conditions sometime within the next 36 hours, NHC said. The "disturbance" — named "potential tropical cyclone nine" — could produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches through Sunday over the Bahamas. Isolated maximum amounts could total 7 inches in the northwest and central Bahamas.

As of 8 a.m. ET, the NHC says the the tropical disturbance is moving northwestward toward the Bahamas at 6 mph and is expected to increase in speed to move across the central and northwestern areas of the Bahamas. There is a possibility the storm will track towards the east coast of Florida into Saturday.

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Conditions are favorable for the disturbance to turn into a tropical depression or a tropical storm late Friday or early Saturday. If it reaches tropical storm status, it would be called Tropical Storm Humberto. The Hurricane Center says the chance of a formation of a tropical depression or tropical storm is high, with an 80% chance of it happening within the upcoming 48 hours.

NHC said the system is packing maximum sustained winds near 30 mph with higher gusts. As it moves across the Bahamas and toward Florida, forecasters say the disturbance could bring tropical-storm-force winds and rainfall to portions of the Florida east coast this weekend.

The government of the Bahamas has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the northwestern Bahamas (excluding Andros Island) and tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area by late Friday. More hazard information is available at https://t.co/3FQe7hmzls pic.twitter.com/SKpbh0AIdu

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 12, 2019

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in a nationwide address Wednesday night that "much" of the island of Abaco, where Hurricane Dorian hit September 1, "is decimated and no longer exists." "There are many deaths and many still missing," Minnis said.

Forty-two people were killed on Abaco and eight on Grand Bahama, but Minnis said the number of deaths is expected to "significantly increase."

The Bahamas' government said Wednesday that there are an estimated 2,500 names on a list of the missing, although names had not yet been checked against rosters of people evacuated or staying at shelters.

"Floodwaters in the streets made them appear like the ocean," Minnis said. "Concrete structures were turned to dust, as if a massive bomb had exploded with atomic force."

Hurricane Dorian's devastation 42 photos

He said the Bahamas would hold a national day of prayer and named hurricane response coordinators for the two most-affected islands.

In addition to the devastation in Abaco, Minnis said East Grand Bahama has been "laid to waste," and Freeport, West End and much of Grand Bahama "experienced horrible destruction."

Minnis said the government is "aggressively working" to set up and secure temporary housing on both islands. While power has been restored to much of Grand Bahama, the electrical grid around Abaco's largest city was destroyed, according to The Associated Press.

A senior administration official told CBS News on Wednesday that the Trump administration will not be granting protected status to people fleeing the destruction of the Bahamas.

It's something the Trump administration had said was a possibility, as the White House seeks to restrict the flow of immigrants into the country.

"The Bahamians impacted by Hurricane Dorian are facing a humanitarian crisis and the American government, international partners and private organizations continue to support them with aid and services," a White House official told CBS News. "At this time we do not plan to invoke Temporary Protected Status for those currently in the United States."

Caroline Linton, Kathryn Watson and Fin Gomez contributed to this report.

First published on September 12, 2019 / 6:26 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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