Hurricane Dorian pummeled the northwest Bahamas like no other storm on record. The storm struck as a ferocious Category 5 hurricane with 185-mph winds, and it sat and spun over Grand Bahama island for 40 straight hours as a major hurricane. This may have been the longest siege of violent, destructive weather ever unleashed on a single location

—Path of Hurricane Dorian

Detail below

State Capital

Marsh Harbour

Freeport

U.S.

Grand

Bahama

Abaco

BAHAMAS

Miami

Nassau

100 MILES

—Path of Hurricane Dorian

Detail below

Freeport

Marsh Harbour

U.S.

Grand

Bahama

Abaco

Miami

Nassau

BAHAMAS

100 MILES

Detail below

U.S.

Marsh Harbour

Freeport

Grand

Bahama

Abaco

Miami

BAHAMAS

Atlantic

Ocean

Nassau

150 MILES

Atlantic

Ocean

U.S.

Detail below

Freeport

Marsh Harbour

Grand

Bahama

Abaco

Miami

Nassau

BAHAMAS

150 MILES

CUBA

The storm’s powerful winds and storm-surge flooding, with a forecast surge as high as 23 feet, destroyed structures and flooded large areas of land. Satellite-based rainfall estimates in the northwest Bahamas range from 40 to 60 inches, which no doubt further compounded the flooding.


Satellite images of Great Abaco Island before Hurricane Dorian, Aug. 16, and after, Sept. 5, 2019.

Wednesday, the first mostly-cloudless day after the storm, gave satellites a clear look at the Abaco islands and Grand Bahama. Dorian churned the shallow waters to a bright aquamarine, mixing up sand and sediment. Muddy runoff can be seen near the islands.

Marsh Harbour

Marsh

Harbour

Great

Abaco

island


Satellite images of Marsh Harbour before Hurricane Dorian in May and on Wednesday. (Planet Labs)

Images released by Planet Labs show the devastation of Marsh Harbour’s main harbor. Docks are destroyed, buildings are leveled and the water, which was crystal clear before the storm, has been stirred up and is full of sediment. Throughout the Great Abaco island, structures were demolished.

Hurricane Dorian tied for the strongest hurricane winds at landfall on record in the Atlantic and was the strongest hurricane observed so far north in the North Atlantic Basin. A storm of this magnitude is capable of reshaping islands for decades to come, both in terms of built structures and by eroding existing lands or cutting new channels, effectively creating new islands.

Dundas Town

Marsh

Harbour

Great

Abaco

island


The Dundas Town area before Dorian in March 2018 and on Wednesday. (CNES/Airbus/Planet Labs)

Roads were submerged throughout the island, cutting off transportation, and even some designated shelters, such as the Central Abaco Primary School near Dundas Town, were destroyed.

Leonard M. Thompson

International Airport

Marsh

Harbour

Great

Abaco

island


Satellite images of Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in May 2017 and on Wednesday. (CNES/Airbus/Planet Labs)

Nearly half the runway of Leonard M. Thompson International Airport was submerged. Several smaller buildings appear destroyed, and debris is strewn about the area. The airport is the second busiest in the Bahamas and a major gateway into the country.

Downtown Marsh Harbour

Great

Abaco

island


Satellite images of Marsh Harbour before Hurricane Dorian, Oct. 2018, and after, Sept. 5, 2019. (Maxar)

In downtown Marsh Harbour, images from Maxar collected on Thursday show that neighborhoods are flattened and larger buildings are missing parts of their roofs.

Green Turtle Cay

Marsh

Harbour

Great

Abaco

island


Satellite images of Green Turtle Cay before Hurricane Dorian, Jan. 2019, and after, Sept. 5, 2019. (Maxar)

Green Turtle Cay, a small barrier island north of Abaco, was hit particularly hard. From the images, it’s possible to see palm trees with the leaves ripped off and many structures totally leveled.

Freeport

Grand

Bahama

Island


Freeport on Saturday before Dorian and on Monday. (e-Geos/SIIS/Ursa)

Synthetic aperture radar imagery from Ursa Space Systems shows a similar level of devastation on the Island of Grand Bahama. SAR instruments use radio waves to pierce through cloudy skies, clearly showing flooding on the island. Freeport is home to about 26,000 people and is the main city on Grand Bahama. Images taken after the storm show the airport underwater.

Tuesday, authorities said that almost 3 out of every 4 homes on Grand Bahama were underwater. Recovery from the disaster is expected to cost billions of dollars.

About this report: Storm path is from the National Hurricane Center. Maps use data from Open Street Map and ESA Sentinel.