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Hurricane Dorian menaces Georgia, Carolinas, state of emergency declared

Christian Fernsby |
Hurricane Dorian punched northwest on Saturday to threaten Georgia and the Carolinas.

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Communities in northeast Florida, Georgia and South Carolina raised alert levels, with residents filling sandbags as authorities tested infrastructure and hurricane drills. South Carolina on Saturday joined Georgia, North Carolina and Florida in declaring a state of emergency.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said there had been a "notable change" since Friday night, with the latest forecasts showing the eye of the storm could veer north and stay out at sea.

But it warned that its course remained unpredictable and Dorian posed an immediate threat to the Bahamas as well as millions of people along the southeast U.S. coast.

"While obviously for us it's a better forecast, we can't assume that there's not going to be hazardous weather," said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

The NHC said Dorian was packing maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (240 kph) and was expected to hit the northwest Bahamas islands on Sunday, nearing Florida's east coast late Monday through Tuesday.

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