Hubert Minnis, the Bahamas prime minister, on Saturday urged residents to seek safety from Hurricane Dorian as it closed in on the Atlantic Ocean archipelago. "Those who refuse to evacuate place themselves in very great danger," said Minnis.
"Do not put your life and those of your loved ones at unnecessary risk," he added. "Do not be foolish and try to brave out this hurricane. The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life."
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in the US state of Florida said on Friday that Dorian had strengthened to an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane on a five-level scale.
The 220 kilometre per hour storm is expected to hit the Bahamas on Sunday and between 24 and 48 hours later sweep into Florida.
"A prolonged period of life-threatening storm surge and devastating hurricane-force winds are likely in portions of the north-western Bahamas, where a hurricane warning is in effect," the NHC said.
With the path of the storm still uncertain, residents on the coast of Florida have not yet been ordered to evacuate. However they have been urged to stock up on food and water.
Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, said: "We're anticipating a massive amount of flooding. If you're in an evacuation zone and you're ordered to evacuate, please do so."
US president Donald Trump, whose Mar-a-Lago golf club is located in Palm Beach in Florida, cancelled a trip to Poland to stay behind and focus on preparations for the storm.
"All indications are it's going to hit very hard," Trump said in a video.
Trump declared a state of emergency in Florida - a measure that allows the federal government to give cash to supplement Florida's spending for the crisis.