WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Sunday described Hurricane Dorian as "one of the biggest hurricanes that we've ever seen" before taking part in a briefing about the storm at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters.
"It is a very, very powerful hurricane,” Trump said.
Hurricane Dorian roared into Category 5 status Sunday as one of the fiercest storms on record. The National Hurricane Center said the storm was driving sustained winds of 180 mph, with gusts exceeding 200 mph. Late Sunday morning it had inched to within almost 200 miles of West Palm Beach, Florida, and was heading west at about 7 mph.
The storm was expected to turn north, and it remained unclear where landfall might occur. A long stretch of the coast including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina were bracing for the storm.
The president quizzed federal officials during a FEMA briefing later Sunday. He repeatedly expressed amazement that a storm could reach Category 5 status.
"Americans are strong, determined and resilient, and we will support each other. And we will work very hard to minimize whatever the effect of what's coming at us," Trump said during the briefing. "We don't know what's coming at us."
Category 5 hurricanes are rare, but not unheard of. Hurricane Michael reached that status before making landfall in Florida last year. Hurricane Andrew, a devastating Category 5 storm, hit the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana in 1992.
"How certain are you that it’ll go north?" Trump asked officials.
"Even if it’s offshore that can bring some devastating impacts on the coast," an official told the president.
Trump canceled a planned trip to Poland to monitor the storm and declared a pre-landfall state of emergency in Florida on Friday.
“It seems to be one of the biggest hurricanes that we've ever seen," Trump told reporters at the White House earlier Sunday after returning from Camp David. "That's a problem.”
Contributing: John Bacon and Dan DeLuca
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump: Category 5 Hurricane Dorian one of biggest ever seen by U.S.