Hurricane Dorian preparations in southeastern United States, Caribbean: PHOTOS

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Hurricane Dorian shut down some hotels in the northern Bahamas and forced some evacuations Saturday as the fierce Category 4 storm prepared to unleash torrents of rain and howling winds but was projected to spin farther away from the coast of the Southeast U.S. next week.

Forecasters expect Dorian, packing 150 mph winds, to hit the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday before curving upward. The storm’s march north could spare the U.S. a direct hit but still threatens Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas with powerful winds and rising ocean water that causes potentially deadly flooding.

In the northern Bahamas, any remaining tourists were sent to government shelters in schools, churches and other buildings offering protection from the storm.

“My home is all battened up, and I’m preparing right now to leave in a couple of minutes. … We’re not taking no chances,” said Margaret Bassett, 55, a ferry boat driver for the Deep Water Cay resort who chose to leave her home. “They said evacuate, you have to evacuate. It’s for the best interests of the people.”

Over two or three days, the hurricane could dump as much as 4 feet of rain, unleash devastating winds and whip up an abnormal and dangerous rise in sea level called storm surge, according to private meteorologist Ryan Maue and some of the most reliable computer models.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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