Hurricane Dorian has built to a Category 5 tropical cyclone - an elite and deadly force of nature that is now descending on the northern Bahamas.

As of the 8 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Dorian had 160-mph winds and was heading west at 8 mph.

The storm, which has evaded forecasters’ best attempts to pin it down on an exact track and intensity, is about 35 miles east of Great Abaco Island and 225 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

NHC forecasters said the sluggish storm will be raking over Great Abaco soon, and continue near or over Grand Bahama Island later tonight and Monday.

Florida is forecast to experience the same slow shredding as Dorian closes in on the East Coast late Monday through Tuesday night.

The track of the storm remained unchanged in the 8 a.m. advisory.

Here are the 8 a.m. advisories from the National Hurricane Center:

1. A prolonged period of life-threatening storm surge, devastating hurricane-force winds, and heavy rains capable of producing life-threatening flash floods are expected on the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama through Monday, and a hurricane warning is in effect for these areas.

2. A tropical storm warning is now in effect for a portion of the Florida east coast. Since Dorian is forecast to slow down and turn northward as it approaches the coast, life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are still possible along portions of the Florida east coast by the middle part of this week. Residents should have their hurricane plan in place, know if they are in a hurricane evacuation zone, and listen to advice given by local emergency officials.

3. There is an increasing risk of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week. Residents in these areas should continue to monitor the progress of Dorian.

4. Heavy rains, capable of producing life-threatening flash floods, are possible over coastal sections of the southeast and lower mid-Atlantic regions of the United States through late this week.

This story will be updated.

5 a.m.: A tortuously slow-moving hurricane Dorian continues to crawl toward the northwestern Bahamas, threatening the tiny islands with devastating 150-mph winds and drowning storm surge.

The storm, which has maintained Category 4 strength for more than 24 hours, is about 255 miles east of West Palm Beach, and about 70 miles east of Great Abaco Island.

It is moving west at 8 mph.

With hurricane-force winds extending out 30 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extending 105, the first burst of Dorian’s assault is already upon Marsh Harbour and Coopers Town in Great Abaco.

A tropical storm warning has now been issued for areas of South Florida from Sebastian Inlet to Deerfield Beach.

A tropical storm warning means winds of above 39 mph are expected in an area within 36 hours. 

A tropical storm watch has been issued for north of Golden Beach to Deerfield Beach.

Sep 01: From the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center, here are the current watches and warnings associated with Hurricane Dorian. These include Coastal and Metro Palm Beach County, along with the Atlantic waters. #Dorian #Flwx pic.twitter.com/fJxJmxpuB2

— NWS Miami (@NWSMiami) September 1, 2019

Additional tropical storm watches and warnings may be added for the east coast of Florida today.

While South Florida may have breathed a sigh of relief Saturday watching the cone of uncertainty slip further north and east, Dorian is proving to be a forecast challenge and slight wobbles can make a bid difference for the Sunshine State.

As of the 5 a.m. advisory, the official track forecast has been shifted a little west during the next couple of days, putting Florida at a higher risk for feeling effects from Dorian.

“Although the exact NHC track forecast lies east of the Florida peninsula, a track closer to the coast or even a landfall remain a possibility,” said NHC senior hurricane specialist Dan Brown in his Saturday 11 p.m. forecast.

10 pm. Warm & windy. Stars in the sky. I'd call it a nice night, but it's nature's deception-- like putting nice curtains on the gates to hell. #DORIAN #Bahamas pic.twitter.com/nBlSSJaFTj

— Josh Morgerman (@iCyclone) September 1, 2019

Dorian is looking for a weakness in the Bermuda High before it can start skirting north.

When that turn happens though, is still a question.

Because Dorian is forecast to slow down as it approaches the coast, “life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are still possible along portions of the Florida east coast by the middle part of this week,” according to the NHC.

The National Weather Service in Miami warns that beaches from Jacksonville to the Keys could get chewed up by Dorian. It’s slow movement means a bigger wave momentum.

Storm surge maps have not yet been issued by the National Hurricane Center, and that is what evacuations are based on, so it’s unclear yet when or if those will be ordered in Palm Beach County.

But Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground, said South Florida should be prepared for a lengthy visit from Dorian.

While slower storms can weaken as they pull up cooler water from the depths of the ocean, that’s not the case over the shallow Bahamas.

And at Florida’s coast, the Gulf Stream could continue to feed it warm water regardless of it’s extended churn.

“As fast as Dorian pulls the cold water from down deep, it will be replaced from water coming in from the south with the Gulf Stream,” said Master’s who is not ruling out Dorian reaching Cat 5 strength.

“The current atmospheric conditions are capable of supporting a Cat 5,” he said. “But everything has to be perfect, and that’s rare.”

Kmiller@pbpost.com

@KmillerWeather