Map of the islands of the Bahamas. Photo courtesy

NASSAU, The Bahamas--The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation continues to track the progress of Dorian which has been upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane.

As of Thursday at 5:00pm, the centre of Hurricane Dorian was located near latitude 22.5 North, longitude 67.7 West, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). Dorian was moving toward the Northwest near 13 miles per hour (mph) (20 kilometres/hour (km/h)), and this general motion was expected to continue through today, Friday. A west-northwestward to westward motion was forecast to begin by Friday night and continue into the weekend. On this track, Dorian was expected to move over the Atlantic well east of the southeast and central Bahamas Thursday night and on Friday, approach the northwest Bahamas Saturday, and move near or over portions of the northwest Bahamas on Sunday.

Maximum sustained winds were near 85mph (140km/h) with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane today, Friday, and remain an extremely dangerous hurricane through the weekend.

Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 15 miles (30km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles (150km).

The estimated minimum central pressure was 986 millibars (29.12 inches) on Thursday evening.

While there were no coastal watches or warnings in effect at that time, interests in the northwest Bahamas, which includes Nassau and New Providence, Eleuthera, Abaco, Grand Bahama, North Andros, Bimini and The Berry Islands, and the central Bahamas were advised to monitor the progress of Dorian. The NHC said watches could be required for portions of this area today, Friday.

The storm is expected to make landfall by Saturday night. All northwest Bahamas islands mentioned above should have begun hurricane preparation on Thursday in anticipation of the storm.

On Thursday evening, all airports and ports in the Bahamas continued to remain open for business. Visitors were strongly advised to check directly with airlines, hotels and cruise lines regarding possible impacts on travel plans.  

Following Labor Day, it is normal for hotels in the Out Islands to close for the fall season. Travelers are advised to check with hotels directly regarding regularly scheduled closures.

The Bahamas is an archipelago with more than 700 islands and cays, spread over 100,000 square miles; there could be a tropical storm or hurricane warning for parts of the country while other parts remain unaffected.

The Ministry continues to monitor Hurricane Dorian and is providing updates at . For further information, visit .